GE 'Skypump' Charges Electric Cars With Wind Power

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Last year, GE and vertical axis wind turbine company Urban Green Energy announced the launch of the Sanya Skypump, a wind-powered charging station capable of recharging an electric car on wind energy alone.

Almost a year later, the two firms have just announced the official unveiling of the first Sanya Skypump to be installed in the world. 

Located in Barcelona, Spain, the 4-kilowatt wind turbine looks like any other vertical axis wind turbine from a distance. 

Get closer however, and you notice an electric car charging station neatly enclosed in the base of its 42-foot tower. 

Although the turbine itself will generate electricity at wind speeds greater than 7 mph, it does need wind speeds of around 24 mph before it is generating 3 kilowatts, the power generally needed for the slowest level 2, 240-volt charging station. 

Sanya Skypump

Sanya Skypump

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At lower wind speeds, or higher level 2 charging loads, the Sanya Skypump can be connected to the grid to pull additional energy as required.

This makes it possible for the wind-powered charging station to offer up to 40 amps -- around 9 kilowatts -- of level 2 charging capability, despite a rated maximum wind turbine power output of 4 kilowatts. 

Although the first to be installed since its launch, the Spanish Sanya Skypump won’t be the last. 

Because of its compact design, the $30,000 Sanya Skypump can be installed in locations where traditional wind turbines cannot, making it ideal for large corporate parking lots.

Urban Green Energy and GE say that more Skypumps will be installed this year at various locations -- including Universities and shopping malls -- in the U.S. 


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Comments (10)
  1. I smell a little bit of green-washing here.

    Generally speaking, traditional horizontal axis wind turbines produce more power at a lower cost.

    Also, wind power increases in a cubic relationship with wind speed. This means that you need to locate wind turbines in very windy locations to get anything out of them.

    Let's consider this more "evocative" than practical. Really a symbol of good intend rather than actual good practice.

  2. I guarantee you cannot even define what greenwashing is. How is GE and Urban Green Energy, both companies who have defined themselves through their sustainable practices and providing the world with renewable energy products, using deception to trick the public into thinking they are energy conscious when they truly are not? Do a little research there John and then come back to us. Thanks for trying

  3. They certainly won't have to put up signs or a billboard to advertise that there is a charging station located under the wind turbine.

  4. Why not just provide 17 solar panels for the cars? It will double as sun shade..

  5. It won't work at night.

  6. @David: Actually, David, wind tends to come more at night (in the windier precincts of the U.S., anyhow) than during daylight hours. So in some ways, a combined wind-solar station may provide more total energy-generating uptime.

    The nighttime power presents a problem for wind alone because it comes when demand is lowest--which is why utilities want energy storage capability, to hold the electricity until it's needed in peak demand periods.

    Such storage may include bunkers of the same large lithium-ion cells that go into electric-car batteries. If costs come down and lifetime is clearer, it could be a huge win-win for the two industries together.

  7. Let's see how much it costs to charge a car this way:

    4kW x 20% capacity factor = 7,000 kWh/year for 10 year operational life
    $30,000 at 5% ROI for 10 years = $49,000 PV

    $49,000/70,000 kWh = $0.70/kWh (not including ongoing maintenance costs)

    In a 2013 plug-in Prius that travels 3-mi/kWh and 48-mi/gallon..that's equivalent to paying 48-mi x ($0.70/3-mi) = $11.20 per gallon

  8. Well, at $0.70/KWh, that is much higher than Solar cost.

    But why only 10 year operational life? (Bearing are the only thing that would need replacement or maintenance, assuming no gear box) Also, why only 20% capacity factor? You would assume that they install wind power at a location where wind is frequent and often...

  9. The operational life of the system is 20 years.

  10. Matt; lets try that analysis with a realistic price for the gasoline used. or better yet, lets move half the oil subsidies to renewables like wind, solar, etc. and see how the TCO converges

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