New mini wind turbine packs a punch

Wind power could be heading to a roof near you.

Although small wind turbines are usually far less efficient than their large-scale counterparts, a powerful new mini turbine could help to change the game.

Wind power startup Diffuse Energy says its new Hyland 920 – which weighs just 18.5 kg and is under 1m in diameter – is twice as powerful as its competitors, and the company expects homes and businesses will be able to use its technology to harvest their own energy.

 In its first commercial application, the new turbine will be trialled to power off-grid telecommunications towers in remote parts of Australia, and if successful will be rolled out more broadly.

The recent devastating bushfires in Australia exposed the need for remote power sources after rural communities were cut off from critical telecommunication infrastructure, including mobile phone networks.

Solar panels are not always practical at these telecommunications tower sites due to a lack of space, shade issues, and restrictions on tree clearing, and unlike solar panels, wind turbines can generate power day and night, and even on rainy days.

"Diverse and complementary means of renewable generation are now urgently needed to continue the growth of clean energy."

Dr Joss Kesby resized
CEO Joss Kesby | Source: Diffuse Energy

Diffuse Energy’s founder and CEO Joss Kesby says the company’s small wind turbines can complement other remote power technologies such as solar at these types of sites.

“Diverse and complementary means of renewable generation are now urgently needed to continue the growth of clean energy,” Kesby says. “Wind offers a lot of advantages as it unlocks a renewable source of energy that is not correlated to solar. I see it as a natural complement to solar PV, as it can generate at night or during rainy winter weather. There are other advantages too, as you may not need to oversize a solar PV/battery system to plan for adverse weather conditions, saving CAPEX.”

According to Kesby, in addition to telecommunications, Diffuse Energy’s mini wind turbines are also suited to the residential, agriculture, utility and transport sectors.

Tech talk

Diffuse Energy was founded by three colleagues from the University of Newcastle in NSW, Australia – Dr Joss Kesby, Dr Samuel Evans, and James Bradley. The wind power startup completed the CSIRO On Prime and accelerate programs which aim to “fast-track great research and technology into real world outcomes”. Traditionally, small wind turbines have offered significantly lower efficiency than their large-scale counterparts, but because Diffuse Energy’s 500-watt Hyland 920 mini wind turbine is enclosed within a diffuser, it can produce nearly twice the power output of existing wind turbines of the same size, according to its makers. Also, its additional diffuser makes the turbine safer and quieter than existing turbines. It also has a rugged construction, with a polymer body, aluminium centre body,  carbon fibre composite blades and a stainless steel yaw mechanism.  The Hyland 920 weighs just 18.5 kg and is less than one metre in diameter. Its rated wind speed is 11m/s (40km/h)

Who funds it?

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has provided $341,990 in grant funding to support Diffuse Energy’s mini wind turbine telecommunications trial.

Is it ready to roll?

Diffuse Energy’s new mini wind turbine, the
Hyland 920, will be initially trialled at ten telecommunications towers at across Australia and if successful will roll out to more locations.

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