This small-scale hybrid energy device harvests both sun and wind

Windstream SolarMill hybrid solar wind system
© Windstream

Combining solar PV and vertical axis wind turbines into a single modular unit, the SolarMill is billed as "world’s first integrated hybrid technology."

Small-scale and urban wind power hasn't seen nearly the same adoption rate as small-scale solar has, but that hasn't seemed to stop anyone from working on advancing the technology for rooftop wind power and micro-wind generators, even though wind power pundits maintain that small-scale urban wind power isn't all it's cracked up to be, and that payback times can be very long.

Small-scale solar works great for generating renewable energy from your rooftop. The technology is mature, the cost is dropping, and panel efficiencies are rising. And even though the sun isn't shining half of the time, when it is shining, solar panels will produce clean power dependably and silently for many decades, with minimal maintenance. Small-scale wind power generation isn't nearly as predictable, especially in the urban environment, such as placing a turbine on a rooftop, where low wind speeds and variable wind directions may not be optimal for producing electricity.

However, an advantage that wind has over solar power is that turbines can continue to generate electricity when the sun goes down, so one solution is to combine the two into a hybrid renewable energy system, such as Windstream has done with their SolarMill devices.

The SolarMill hybrid energy system, from Windstream, integrates solar panels and vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs) into modular units that can be installed on rooftops or other appropriate locations, promising to be an easy-to-install "highly efficient, low-cost, renewable energy hybrid device for any environment."

The company supplied 50 of their SolarMill modules to what was billed as "the world's largest hybrid renewable energy project" on the roof of a building in Kingston, Jamaica. The installation, which is on the roof of a law firm, is expected to generate 106,000 kWh of renewable energy per year (25kW from wind and 55kW from solar) and to pay for itself in just four years. This hybrid energy installation is expected to deliver over $2 million in energy cost savings to the owners over its expected 25-year lifespan.

Windstream also makes a mobile version of the SolarMill, appropriately called the MobileMill, which is intended for first responders and emergency relief, and which can deploy a 4kW renewable energy system, complete with an 18 kWh battery array, within minutes of arriving.

Find out more about Windstream's line of hybrid renewable energy systems at the website.

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