Electric cars are very popular and more and more on the roads, but the truth is that they have not yet taken off in Spain. A situation mainly due to delays in assistance for its purchase, limited autonomy and lack of charging points. Some problems that can be faced thanks to technology, such as a chip that activates its charging power and autonomy or, in this case, a smart tower that uses solar and wind energy to charge electric vehicles on a large scale.
One of the main advantages of electric cars is that they are environmentally friendly, because they do not emit polluting gases through the exhaust. However, This does not mean that they are completely clean., because the production of their batteries and motors often involves environmental challenges. Sometimes they are charged with non-renewable energy sources. To make them more sustainable, now a company based in Connecticut (United States) proposes a new solution to charge these vehicles: Wind and Solar Tower, a tower that combines wind and solar energy in a system.
Development of the Wind and Solar Tower began in 2007. At that time, Jim Bardia, its inventor, was researching renewable energy that his friend could use on his farm and discovered that the wind production capacity of the local wind could not be commercialized without new technology. After years of research and thanks to his previous experience in designing and building personal vehicles, he decided to create an invention that combines solar and wind energy. As a result, he created a tower for agricultural use, but ended up redesigning it as a high-capacity self-powered electric vehicle charging system that works without adding load to the grid.
Solar and wind energy
The Wind and Solar Tower – which is also the name of the company – combines the benefits of wind turbines with solar panels to generate. a relatively compact system that produces a lot of energy. A tower with a vertical axis turbine that rotates in whichever direction the wind blows and which, unlike traditional solutions, generates electricity with a gentle wind of only 8 km/h and resists gusts of up to 120 km/h; in addition to having a photovoltaic panel on its upper part.
According to its creator, a tower of this style can provide 234,154 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year with a duty cycle of 33% for the wind turbine and 45% for the solar panel. “It’s like a gas station with your own oil well”, says Jim Bardia in an official statement. This system can also generate electricity on its own without being connected to the electrical grid, although it can always be plugged in if desired.
This new tower is distinguished by having various intelligent innovations to produce more energy. To begin with, it has a special levitation axis made with permanent magnets that eliminates friction and allows the wind turbine to rotate with less effort. This invention also includes a sequential transmission system, with straight gears and eight speeds, which, by adapting to the different intensities of the wind, serves to “increase the amount of time it can do and electricity.”
Bardia says that wind gusts are common, but a consistent breeze is more difficult to achieve, so having a gearbox as part of this system provides greater flexibility. This way, at higher wind speeds, the transmission can upshift as needed to control turbine speed. while producing more electricity by spinning the generator faster. If there is almost no breeze, you can switch to a lower ratio to make it spin faster.
Buses using Wind & Solar towers. Wind & Solar Omicron
The company’s patented generator has an efficiency of 92.3%, which is much higher than the average generators, which are between 50 and 60% efficient, according to Bardia. More than this, this new system also has the ability to charge electric vehicles at night and without wind to conserve energy. “The tower is big enough to house up to one megawatt of batteries,” said its creator.
Another main part of this system is the solar panel that crowns the top of the tower, which is self-cleaning thanks to centrifugal force. Bardia explained that this is because the morning dew wets the surface and when the turbine rotates, water and dirt come out. In addition, these plates are also cool because the air can easily circulate under them, reducing heat absorption and preventing their recovery from shrinking when the temperature is high. The company points out that its system can charge 11,707 cars per year per tower and that in just three minutes it offers 104 km of autonomy; and 352 km after 10 minutes of charging.
A flexible design
The system also has a flexible and adaptable design. In other words, it can meet a wide range of needs and can be installed in different locations, such as gas stations, downtown areas or universities. The company is still considering the possibility of create a smaller version for home use in the future. And so far this invention is about 18 meters high – similar to a highway light pole – and 13.5 meters in diameter, offering about 140 square meters of solar panels on top of it.
Despite its potential, this invention is not yet in production. In fact, the company is looking for partners and investors to start its production. Regarding the price, each tower will cost about 80,000 dollars, about 76,000 euros at the exchange rate, for each DC fast charger; and each unit has six of these chargers. Therefore, the total estimated price is $480,000, approximately 456,000 euros, per tower.
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Of course, Bardia warned against that Your solar and wind tower is not a magic solution of the problem that exists worldwide regarding the charging of electric vehicles, but emphasizes that it represents a big step in the right direction for clean and renewable electricity. “When you charge an electric vehicle from the grid, that car pollutes the atmosphere. Unlike a car or truck with an internal combustion engine, but for the most part, it’s 60% better, “concluded the manager.