Q&A with MOWEA Co-Founders: On Small, Scalable, Modular Wind Turbine Technology

June 25, 2018 | 19:00
MOWEA from Berlin, Germany, wants to be the biggest in the smallest of wind turbines. This may sound like a marketing statement. But co-founders Dr. Till Naumann and Andreas Amberger do not consider themselves to be marketing managers. They consider themselves to be engineers. That is why they like to think in terms of a detailed roadmap: first, focus on sound technology and then look for the right sales people. Their roadmap highlights the coming three years as crucial.
 
What is the plan? The plan is to design and test small wind turbines, which, in the words of Naumann, could be placed on any family home, on an office building roof, or on a telecom provider’s pole. The turbines’ rotors are only 1.5 metres in diameter, a far cry from the 8 or 10 metres you find on larger conventional wind turbines.
 
Co-founders Dr. Till Naumann
and Andreas Amberger

MOWEA wants to make its system completely scalable: depending on any local need, two turbines could be connected to each other — or 20, thus providing a range anywhere between 400 W and 50 kW. This implies that the turbines could work completely off-grid, or they could supply power to any existing grid. Naumann and Amberger intend to go one step further. Their turbines are ideal for supplying power to newly established microgrids in areas where energy supply is still completely absent.
 
Weak winds optimized
OK, this is the plan. But to be honest, this plan is not that unique. Similar plans for small turbines have been around, but they’ve remained just that — plans. Granted, one could pinpoint some examples of what could be dubbed as “promising prototypes.” But for some reason or another, the prototypes didn’t make it to the worldwide market, which is the market MOWEA is targeting. What makes Naumann and Amberger think that they and their three colleagues can turn things around (not only in the literal sense)?
 
Here is where both feel an urge to tell their story, and not just because they want investors to contribute to their cause. First of all, they managed to make their wind turbines 10% more efficient than similar or previous turbines. Every percentage point counts in the wind energy business. “We can offer 10 of them,” Naumann and Amberger state unequivocally. How did they “pull this one off”? In three ways: by improving the rotor (with airplane like winglets for example), by improving the generator, and, last but not least, by improving the electronics. All three make the MOWEA wind turbine, among other things, “weak winds optimized.” Naumann and Amberger persistently avoid going into further detail here, wanting to protect their IP as much as possible.
 
Do you want a 10-kW system? MOWEA
can go to 50 kW.

In sync with solar
Naumann and Amberger want to talk about other technological features of their wind turbines. Any MOWEA wind turbine can work in sync with a photovoltaic system, meaning that wind and solar energy can be combined in one integrated product. This makes the total system much more attractive, not only because of the increased availability of real-time energy (even to 100% in some places), but also because this solution reduces the needed battery capacity and thus battery costs.
 
Finally, there is another point both men don’t want to leave untouched. The turbines are designed in such a way that people, as well as animals, are kept at a safe distance from the rotor(s). A special kind of net makes the turbines as safe as they can be. “Something which also makes our solution unique,” Naumann said.

Crucial year
2018 is a crucial year from MOWEA. Several prototypes have been tested to back up the claims the cofounders made: modularity and scalability, 10% more efficiency, working in sync with photovoltaic systems, and being safe for both people and animals.

Editor's Note: MOWEA won the electronica Fast Forward Start-up Award 2016, powered by Elektor. Do you want to join electronica Fast Forward, the Start-up Platform powered by Elektor 2018? Visit www.elektormagazine.com/e-ffwd and complete the sign-up form. It is also the place to look for more information like terms and Conditions and news. We look forward to hosting the e-ffwd 2018 edition and welcome you at the electronica trade show in Munich this November.

Read the entire interview in Elektor Business Edition number 3/2018.
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