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Lowering the cost of energy by innovation

Lowering the cost of energy produced by the wind is one of the main industry concerns at the moment and more and more companies are focusing on this. Some of the best hopes for lowering the cost lie in new innovations and product designs.

At HUSUM WindEnergy, which was due to start just after this issue of Windtech International went to press, we are looking forward to seeing and discussing some of the recent innovations developed by wind technology companies. At the trade fair and congress, leading enterprises will be presenting their latest product innovations in areas including turbine components, manufacturing processes, and operation and maintenance technology as well as the technology of the turbines themselves. We will report back on our thoughts after HUSUM WindEnergy and will no doubt invite some of the companies to talk about their latest innovations in more detail in future issues of Windtech International. In the meantime, the current issue features several articles about innovative products and ways of looking at the industry.

A new type of turbine?
Traditionally wind energy is generated using three-bladed turbines. A new start-up company from Tunisia has thought beyond the ‘box’ and is developing a radical new way of harnessing wind using a bladeless turbine. The innovative new wind converter, named the Saphonian, does not rotate. It is radically different from conventional turbines and is largely inspired by sailing boats. It is a serious attempt to provide a clean, cheap and storable source of energy. On page 7 you can read the full article about the Saphonian written by Anis Aouini and Hassine Labaied the Co-founders of Saphon Energy.

A network model to improve innovation?
As reported in the News section, the President and CEO of The Switch, Jukka-Pekka Mäkinen, has called for the adoption of an industry-wide networked model to overcome the rigidity of the vertical integration that he feels still stifles the entire industry, making it difficult to adjust rapidly to the slowdown and to maintain a high level of innovation. According to Mr Mäkinen, industries that have embraced networking are better prepared for fluctuations in the market that can come from business cyclicity, market volatility or even geographical shifts.

Five drivers to cheaper energy
As well as promoting networking, The Switch is looking at ways to lower the cost of energy. The formula for lowering the cost of energy from any source is ultimately very simple: lower overall capital investment costs, equipment lifetime operation and maintenance (O&M) costs and fuel costs, while boosting the amount of energy generated. In the article on page 33, Jussi Vanhanen, Director of Sales and Marketing at The Switch, describes five drivers which can bring the cost down: raise annual energy production, minimise total life-cycle costs, extend the equipment lifetime, boost the quality of electricity and achieve a business balance.

Enjoy reading,

Floris Siteur
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