Thursday, 13 September 2012

Serene on the surface, but underneath...

Well five months have passed since my last update, and at first glance, not much seems to have happened, but dig a little deeper, and we have been very busy, albeit "below the surface". The RB2 has been testing for over a year now, and has been performing exactly as we hoped it would. That means that we have now got a "stable technology", i.e. the design is now finalised, and will not be changed when we go into production. In the meantime we have been addressing all of the less exciting, but necessary things that go into the launch of a product. Certification has been a major issue for us - we want people to be confident that the RidgeBlade will perform to specifications, and certification is one way that we can prove this to be the case. So far we have achieved CE certification, and we have just agreed a testing programme that should see us achieve MCS certification in the UK, as well as IEC61400, and the AWEA certification for the US market. We expect the testing to take about 12months.   So why all this testing? Well, even in our own industry we've seen what a product recall can do to a company - one minute market leader, and the next in administration. We have to be 110% sure that the product is ready for market, or we risk everything. In other matters we have arranged for product liability insurance - which is not always easy for new and innovative products. We are also working with installers to produce an installation procedures manual, and also looking at what the operation and maintenance schedule should be.

On the commercial front, we are partnering with a small number of organisations that can help us to widen the testing programme, installing RidgeBlades on a variety of roofs, in a variety of locations: agricultural buildings, warehouses, distribution centres, light industrial and commercial buildings. All of this data will help us to accurately predict what power a RidgeBlade will produce on any given roof in any location. Some of these partner organisations are very well known - household names in the UK and Europe. The proposed test installations will be of a variety of sizes, ranging from small, 12 meter installations, to a 100 meter installation with a capacity of over 50kw.

Oh, and one other thing - we have commissioned a video! As soon as it's completed we'll put a link on the website, but it will show the making and installation of a RidgeBlade, from factory to roof.

So whilst it might seem that not much has changed, we are much closer to a commercial launch than we were before, and if the progress made has not been exciting, it's been necessary. Hopefully the next post will have some photos of more actual installations and some more exciting news!

Friday, 6 April 2012

So much to tell, so little time...

I'll start off by offering the now traditional apology for the length of time since my last post, but in my defence we have been very busy.. In the last year we have had a major redesign of the RidgeBlade, making it more efficient, lighter, cheaper to manufacture, and even developing a version that doesn't need a pitched roof! We now have two versions of the RidgeBlade, with the main difference only being in size - the smaller version is designed for domestic houses, and the larger one for agricultural and industrial buildings. The new versions have been in test for over 6 months now, and we are happy to report that they are performing exactly as expected, producing good power, silently and without vibration. So how much power? Well, in an average UK location (average wind speed), the larger version will produce an annual output of over 3200kwh from a 10 module installation. As for noise, well, whilst I said "silently" earlier, nothing is totally silent, and at full speed, the RidgeBlade generates 66.1 Db which is inaudible over the sound of the wind. Were we pleased? Oh yes! A lot of work has gone into the noise elimination technology and our Technical Director deserves a hearty pat on the back for the stunning results.

Another change to the design is the aerodynamically controlled over-speed protection. What's that you say? Effectively it means that the rotors reach their maximum speed at 25mph wind speeds and above that wind speed, the rotor speed remains constant so that they do not spin out of control. This also means that we do not need the electrically operated shutter mechanism seen on version 1, so the design is much lighter, simpler and cheaper. The unit has seen some pretty impressive storms over the winter, and measured wind speeds of nearly 70mph, and it worked perfectly. Smug? Us? You bet.

The next question that you will ask is "What does it cost?". Slightly more difficult here - until the units go into full production it's difficult to say what the final price will be, but it looks very likely that they will provide power more cheaply than solar pv, which was one of our objectives.

The other question that we are getting asked a lot is "when can I buy one?" Again - difficult to be precise, but we are in discussions at the moment that will hopefully see RidgeBlades being manufactured in the near future - and judging by the level of enquiries that we are getting form around the world, not just in the UK.