In hopes of delivering cost-effective renewable energy to the average citizen, Indian startup company Avant Garde Innovations has developed small wind turbines that can be installed in any households for a fraction of the price of the average windmills. Following its passion for combining nature and technology, the company developed an ambitious aim: to power over a billion under-served people with clean energy that can also be affordable. The cost of the one small wind turbine is INR 50,000 (US $750) – a huge saving compared to the US $1,400 per kilowatt price of a large-scale windmill.
The company was registered in 2013 and started its operations in 2015 in a country that is globally ranked 5th in terms of wind power. The startup’s founder and CEO Arun George says that the idea was inspired by the challenges he faced in the Indian state of Kerala, where he is from. “The fact that we faced constant electricity disruptions and deficiencies in the state of Kerala, and with over 300 million people in India and over 1.2 billion people globally without power also made us realize the urgent need to tackle this global challenge,” he says. According George, the company was focused on creating “powerful positive changes and social good in their society” from the get go.
“We had this insistence to ourselves that whatever we do must only be things that are beneficial to society and not merely to make profits for ourselves,” says George, highlighting the company’s vision is to deliver high quality as well as withholding their values and high standards.
How Does it Work?
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), small turbines with less than 100 kilowatts capacity have been constructed before. They are mainly needed for personal usages in rural communities. So what makes this one so different?
George explains that the patent pending ‘Gyroscopic Axial Flux Turbine’ (GAFT) the company has developed “is a multipurpose turbine that can not only be used in wind turbines, but also for hydel turbines, tidal turbines and even capable of being converted as an automobile motor.”
Hydel turbines, also known as water turbines, can convert kinetic energy in the water to electricity while tidal turbines rely on tides to generate electricity.
“It is a vastly scalable product which can range from installations of Wind Turbines ranging from 1 kilowatt to over 300 kilowatts or more depending on the requirement,” says George. “These can start generating electricity of around 5 kilowatt hours per kilowatt per day at a minimal low wind speed of 1.5 meters per second due to the increased power efficiency by achieving a core-less design to avoid the energy losses from the system, which also helps in removing cogging torque at the start.”
Unlike traditional generators, in a certain number, the small scale windmill has brush-less, core-less or air-core wind turbines which reduces Eddy current losses and eliminates starting and cogging torque. “Households, commercial offices and factories can deploy them on rooftops or on the ground, and on-grid or off-grid, depending on their requirement,” the company’s founder says. Due to their small size, the windmills create no noise or bird collision impacts.
The company successfully installed the first small wind turbine in December 2015 at the 150-year-old heritage church ‘Madre De Deus, situated in the coastal town of Vettukad in Trivandrum City, the capital of the South Indian State of Kerala.
“By doing so, the Madre De Deus became the world’s first church to implement the global call of the Holy Pope Francis through his historical Vatican Encyclical titled ‘Laudato Si‘ published in June 2015, which encourages the world to embrace renewable energy,” George adds.
The entrepreneur said that his startup has received installation orders of a total 250 megawatts from over 30 countries. In order to meet this growing demand and initiate commercial mass production, the company needs to raise additional capital.
George adds that his company has “other exciting energy solutions in the pipeline” which they will introduce to the world once the first launch of their small wind turbines in the market is completed. George is now in US attending the 7th Clean Energy Ministerial in Silicon Valley to showcase his innovation.