Beautiful and Functional: Solar + Wind Installation

July 19, 2014

A reader shares this very cool video.


WindStream Technologies, a publicly traded company (WSTI), is proud to introduce the world’s largest hybrid renewable energy project. It was recently commissioned on the rooftop of the prominent law firm, Myers, Fletcher, & Gordon (MFG) in Kingston, Jamaica. This installation is less than a quarter mile from the Kingston coastline and can typically experience winds gusting as high as 60mph. This grid-tied SolarMill solution not only safely generates energy, but also protects against surges from extreme conditions. This installation will generate approximately 106,000kWh annually for the firm. It has a return on investment of less than four years and will save the firm approximately $2 million dollars over the course of its 25-year lifetime. Comprised of 50 SolarMills, this is the largest hybrid, solar and wind, installation in the world!

24 Responses to “Beautiful and Functional: Solar + Wind Installation”

  1. Mike Barnard Says:

    Hmmm… helical VAWTs are like most other types of VAWTs. Twice the surface area and four times the material to generate the same electricity if you are lucky. In this installation, wind will treat it as an obstruction and flow around, so it will be worse. And the solar panels are tiny.

    Much, much better to put more solar on the rooftop and eliminate the crappy VAWTs. And I say this as a huge wind energy advocate.

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    Yes, a “cool” video, and another concept and company that reminds one of Solar Roadways and Clean Wind Energy Tower, although it has managed to sell some installations of both Solar Mills and the newer “hybrid”. A company with a somewhat shaky financial picture and a penny stock that will attract the gamblers and manipulators. Investors beware.

    I tried to verify the ROI “pays for itself in four years” claim and had little success. I couldn’t even find out the cost of a single Solar Mill, although one guy conjectures that a 3 turbine Solar Mill without PV is about $3000, which would seem to be quite expensive.

    • This is beyond concept, and it is single purpose – producing electricity. In no way is it “like” solar roadways.

      I do wonder if the hold down strength of those frames is enough for hurricanes. But that is a solvable issue.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        I didn’t say it was “like” SR and CWET, just that it “reminded” me of them. Yes, it IS beyond the concept stage and WILL generate electricity, but that doesn’t take away the feeling that they are stretching things a bit.

        And yes, hurricanes are “solvable”—-just pass legislation forbidding them to be more powerful than what the Solar Mill Hybrid can resist—-NC did it with sea level rise.

        PS While digging for cost data, I did find that the “guiding lights” of the company are all marketing types and promoters—-no science, engineering, or energy background to be seen—-another thing that “reminds” me of CWET, the company run by silver miners that never owned a silver mine.

        • indy222 Says:

          I was intrigued as well, and looked at the stock price. Quite a pump/dump looking chart, and I found this ….

          I have no shares, no insight, just passing along this interesting video which seems to be along the same lines as dumboldguy’s post – marketing and promoter types. Perhaps another ‘solar freaking roadways’? I hope not, just wanting to have people take a harder look before plunking down any investment money here.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I saw the same clip during my search, as well as similar ones, and that’s what prompted my warning about manipulators and gamblers. The penny stock market is home to many “pump and dumpers”, and it sure looks as if they were active with Windstream.

            Of course, if one’s concept of “investing” is to buy low, pump, and sell high (to fools), Windstream could be a good place to play that game. It DOES have a viable concept and HAS actually made some small installations, so it should be easy to do the PR thing over and over and attract new waves of the gullible who want to invest in “the wave of the future”.

            Maybe we’ll soon see a merger of WT, SR, and CWET? And they can then do an inversion with some small company in Ireland so that they can avoid U.S. taxes? Wouldn’t surprise me.

  3. What do they do during a hurricane?

    • People have to rotate the unit flat onto the base before the storm. The how to videos aren’t slick but they are informative.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        The “hurricane kit” looks like it would work OK for the solar panel, but the “lightly tightened” ratchet strap across the turbines reminds me of the situation you see with street signs oscillating on their poles in hurricane winds. IMO, those turbines are going to shake themselves to pieces, and the ratchet strap may actually act as a saw blade. Might just hold up for a fast-moving category one, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

        Also, doesn’t this setup limit the number of units you can put on a given roof because of the need to allow for “laydown” space? I don’t think the Jamaica installation allows for this.

        • Good points DOG. The marvelously casual garage shop videos was the best answer to JEV’s question I could find. I’m generally skeptical about VAWT performance, but glad to see people innovating. I noticed that Windstream’s largest investor’s office is 4 miles from my house. I might wander over there.

    • andrewfez Says:

      Probably get replaced via insurance claims…

  4. The solar panels belong closer to a structure. There will be high wind loading. This type of turbine, Savonius, is more of a drag than a lift device. The biggest problem is that it cannot furl or feather in the wind. This, in a storm, high loads. They seem to have made a sturdy base structure. The overall problem with this is that turbines work best at height, on a tall tower. All the roof mounted types are sub- optimal because of lower wind and gustiness. Go to Paul Gipes site for more info and perspective. IMO, there are better combined, wind/ solar systems on the market.

    • They are using the solar panels to deflect win toward the turbines. The panels on top of the turbines and the turbines themselves will put a *lot* of torque on the frames in a high wind. They look like they are just resting on the roof, and there doesn’t even appear to be any ballast weights.

      Hopefully they have bolted down anchors that are not visible, and the steel is strong enough to hold things in place.

    • andrewfez Says:

      Yeah the combined unit has no way of minimizing wind load on the panels because they need to be placed for solar maximization (note how they are all pointing toward the equator). It’s a space saver at least and you can generate more energy than just panels alone because of such. The question then becomes:

      [C_sub_f1 x p_sub_f1] – [C_sub_f2 x p_sub_f2] > or < C_sub_o

      C_sub_f1 = cost of failure secondary to wind load related phenomenon for Windstream System

      p_sub_f1 = probability of such failure

      C_sub_f2 = cost of failure secondary to wind load related phenomenon for conventional solar system

      p_sub_f2 = probability of such failure

      C_sub_o = opportunity cost (difference in return between conventional and Windstream System)

      You can add one more level to this simplified idea that has to do with insurance premiums and reimbursement for the 25 year life if you'd like, to make it more realistic; but then you'd end up having to add in initial cost difference between the two systems, maintenance etc. etc. I was just trying to make it easy to think about in terms of failure risk.

  5. […] A reader shares this very cool video. Description: WindStream Technologies, a publicly traded company (WSTI), is proud to introduce the world's largest hybrid renewable energy project. It was recen…  […]

  6. redskylite Says:

    It’s good to see renewables making inroads into the Caribbean, when you consider all oil is imported and over 4 times the cost as in the U.S. Here’s a great story from Barbados:

    • That’s probably why the payback is so good despite its sub optimal performance. You don’t have to be perfect to displace expensive oil and diesel on an island.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        While searching for some accurate and precise data on costs and ROI, I found several comments that agreed with what you say. The general consensus seemed to be that this concept might be competitive only in limited and “way out” locations with few viable alternatives.

        I myself am still REMINDED of Solar Roadways and Clean Wind Energy Tower. It’s a gimmick designed to attract “investors”. How does it go? “Wind is wind and solar is solar, and never the twain shall meet”? Trying to put both together like this is an overreach.

        • Yes. Not sure bout the quote, but this isn’t the best hybrid system. Can’t help but wonder if the had invested in some medium sized wind, something quality like Bergey, and some good solar provider like sunpower, they might have gotten more for their buck. Such is life. Even a poor renewable system is better than diesel on an island. The two can go together, but a little more refined and efficient tech would be nice.

  7. MorinMoss Says:

    The capacity factor of that install works out to only 15% which is disappointing.

    • Overall, that sounds very low. The solar is maybe half of the output? So that should put it at 50% (of the total), and then the wind may be where wind typically is at about 40% for ~60-70% of the total capacity. If they are getting 15% of the wind capacity, then the system total is about 55-56%.

  8. Nameplate generation:  80 kW.
    Expected net generation:  110,000 kWh/yr

    Capacity factor:  (110,000/(80*8760))=15.7%

    On top of that, the twisted Savonius rotors have very high solidity and cannot be feathered.  The next hurricane will turn that entire structure into scrap metal.

    With 6 m/sec winds at the top of the building, standard HAWTs along the shore (or slightly offshore) should yield much better capacity factor, especially given the 80-100 m hub height for modern HAWTs.  They can also be feathered and left to pivot downwind in hurricane conditions.  Those functions are better separated.

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