‘Miniaturised’ wind turbines for urban centres

Published May 25, 2023
Micro turbines produce up to 5kW of energy at a very low wind speed of 1.5 metres per second.
Micro turbines produce up to 5kW of energy at a very low wind speed of 1.5 metres per second.

KARACHI: In collaboration with a South Korean research and development (R&D) firm, a local company has designed and manufactured a “micro” turbine meant for retail use in dense, urban centres with low-speed winds.

Speaking to Dawn on the sidelines of a recent business conference held to mark 40 years of Pakistan-Korea industrial collaboration, SoluNox Ltd CEO Sajid Ali Khan Tareen said as many as 400 turbines will soon be delivered for the development of wind farms in Pakistan.

The kind of wind turbines currently in use in Pakistan are large in capacity (3.5 megawatts) and require heavy maintenance as well as spread-out infrastructure to access high-speed wind.

Mr Tareen said his company — which he calls an R&D firm as opposed to a trading office — is focused on “miniaturising” renewable energy generation technologies and then integrating the same to the national grid.

“Our micro turbines produce up to 5kW of energy. They’re gearless and work on permanent, high-powered magnets that reduce their overall weight. You can run these at a very low (wind) speed of 1.5 metres per second,” he said.

The required wind speed for micro turbines is significantly lower than the standard requirement of four to six metres per second for regular turbines.

“The kind of infrastructure we have in Karachi has led to certain wind patterns. We identified those patterns and then modified the technology accordingly. Our micro turbines produce electricity even when the wind speed is low,” he said.

“All high-rise buildings in Karachi can make use of these turbines,” he added.

Currently, the average price of a made-in-Korea micro turbine of 5kW is $20,000. However, Mr Tareen said he’s “100 per cent sure” that the price will go down by more than one-fourth to around $4,000 apiece once his company starts manufacturing the product in Pakistan.

This will mean “virtually free” electricity for the turbine user after they’ve paid capital or upfront cost, he said.

“We’ll be making everything within Pakistan,” he said, adding that the firm is “highly optimistic” about the export potential of the product in the African and Southeast Asian countries.

With offices present in Africa, Asia and North and South Americas, the company is currently in the process of raising equity.

“We’re thinking about raising $5m through international financial institutions. We’ve already invested $1m of our own money,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2023

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