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UGE replaces 4K wind turbine with mysterious mid-range VisionAIR

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May 22, 2013

Urban Green Energy (UGE) has unveiled its newest mid-range wind turbine, the VisionAIR, wh...

Urban Green Energy (UGE) has unveiled its newest mid-range wind turbine, the VisionAIR, which replaces the former 4K model and features improved airfoils to provide greater efficiency at moderate wind speeds

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Urban Green Energy (UGE) recently unveiled its newest vertical-axis wind turbine, the VisionAIR, as part of an installation at the Beijing International Garden Expo. The company confirmed to Gizmag that the VisionAIR is replacing its former 4K turbine, last seen adorning the top of an EV charging station, as its standard mid-sized option for customers. Compared with the previous model, the new turbine's design aims for better efficiency at moderate wind speeds, which UGE plans to integrate with its hybrid energy projects.

UGE spent over a year developing and testing the fiberglass blades to achieve a lightweight system. The blades were then manufactured at a new facility in a process that involved molding a series of resin-infused fibers.

According to the company, the assembled VisionAIR is built to last over 20 years and has already obtained a handful of certifications for its quality and safety features. UGE plans to incorporate VisionAIR with its SeamlessGrid power management system, which combines wind turbines and solar panels into one hybrid energy installation.

UGE spent over a year developing and testing the fiberglass blades to achieve a lightweigh...

The new turbine is a tad larger than the 4K at 5.2 x 3.2 m (17.1 x 10.5 ft) and 756 kg (1,665 lbs), but the heftier size allows it to produce more energy overall while maintaining a small footprint. Even with the greater dimensions , the turbine still creates only a whisper-quiet noise level of 38 dB.

The VisionAIR actually generates less energy at 5.5 m/s winds (3,600 kWh/yr versus the 4K's 4,500 kWh/yr), but a lower rated wind speed might help it make up the difference. By dropping the rated wind speed from 12 m/s (26 mph) to 11 m/s (24 mph), the turbine reaches its maximum power output on slightly calmer days, leading to a higher average production over time. It may seem like a small change, but it could have a large impact under the right conditions.

What's in a power rating?

The 4K turbine's name was derived from its power rating of 4,000 W, raising the question of how the VisionAIR stacks up in comparison. When asked about the rated power output for the newer turbine though, UGE stated it doesn't wish to highlight that one particular stat, as the company feels it won't accurately represent its performance.

"We are purposefully stepping away from power rating of the turbine as this information can often be misinterpreted by customers," UGE's VP of Operations, Mateo Chaskel, told Gizmag. "In the past, manufacturers have simply thrown numbers for the power rating with very little standardization, under significantly different conditions, leading to numbers which can be easily misinterpreted. These power ratings have very little correlation to the energy customers actually expect. It's like purchasing a car based on a "rated speed" – it tells you very little about actual performance."

Editor's note: To borrow Chaskel's car analogy, this is like saying a car's top speed isn't a valid measure of its performance because it changes when you drive uphill, or through glue. A turbine's rated power may not tell you how much energy it will go on to produce, but it does tell you its maximum possible output at a given time, and if that's not useful, what is? Potentially not, in isolation, the quoted 3,600 kWh/yr of energy produced in a year, a figure entirely dependent on local conditions. Energy generation per year probably is the best indicator of wind turbine performance, but you need a lot of data from a wide variety of sites before it is useful, and there's no guarantee it will be applicable at any one particular site. At least power rating is a universal figure, and, as an at-a-glance indicator of a turbine's performance, extremely useful indeed.

VisionAIR is built to begin braking once its power production hit 3,200 watts, but apparently it is capable of generating more, depending on local conditions.

VisionAIR made its first public appearance on May 18th at the Beijing International Garden...

VisionAIR made its first public appearance on May 18th at the Beijing International Garden Expo for an installation that combined two turbines with 40 kW of solar panels to power the event's ticket center (apparently, the kW rating is a perfectly acceptable indicator of solar performance – Ed). UGE is currently accepting orders for its latest mid-sized wind turbine.

Source: UGE

About the Author
Jonathan Fincher Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things.   All articles by Jonathan Fincher
6 Comments

I so appreciate a company holding back on claims for power and total energy production until they have some actual data to show for.

That's how it is done. Thanks!

BeWalt
22nd May, 2013 @ 12:42 pm PDT

I like what I've seen in the videos I've tracked down on this product. Likely, the first wind turbine I would consider installing at my residence. The closest dealer is approximately one-hundred miles away from me, but when I am in that area I intend on visiting the dealer.

Fahrenheit 451
22nd May, 2013 @ 01:39 pm PDT

I hope it should be a bit quieter than the plain propeller type turbines generally sold at present, most for which are impossible to gain council approval in average or suburban areas because of that 'throbbing' noise. I wonder, though, if an area gets a series of higher wind speeds than that average of 24 mph (say, when a strongish storm front is approaching or leaving), does it spin up in the lulls or just shut down totally for a week?

The Skud
22nd May, 2013 @ 08:17 pm PDT

"I so appreciate a company holding back on claims for power and total energy production until they have some actual data to show for."

Energy yes, power no. It's not that they don't know the capacity. It's that they've chosen not to say. It's simply part of the turbine spec.

James Holloway
22nd May, 2013 @ 11:01 pm PDT

I think these guys are trying to reset the way people measure power. Not publishing anything seems like a mistake, though. They should publish a power generation curve and an explanation of the benefits they expects from a design that exploits lighter winds.

This article covers that distinction as best it can but we have to depend too much on guesses. UGE should be able to quickly demonstrate that if you live where there's a constant gail, the original 4K might be a better bet but if you get more breezes than brisk, the new one is for you.

Timothy Damien Rohde
23rd May, 2013 @ 09:33 am PDT

Site rating in KW?

large mill? : small genny? : peak battery?

Kwazai
24th May, 2013 @ 07:13 am PDT
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