Winter Garden resident, BE-Wind CEO talks small-wind energy
WINTER GARDEN When most people think of small-wind energy as it exists currently, little propellers often come to mind.
But if you’re Mike Berdan, a Winter Garden resident with a background in aerospace engineering, you’ll see durable, stylish wind turbines helping power the future of renewable energy.
“I spent a lot of time in the aerospace industry, both commercial and military, and this gave me an opportunity to work on small wind, which in the U.S. really doesn’t have a lot of backing,” he said. “Everyone’s focus is on solar or large-wind technology. This gave me an opportunity to bring some of my experience in aerospace manufacturing and product technologies to a more competitive level in small wind here in the U.S.”
Berdan said much of the world is already developing small-wind technology — the goal of which is to generate usable power starting at wind speeds as low as five to seven miles per hour. In fact, in the one-and-one-half years his company has come to market, it already has turbines on four continents.
“BE-Wind offers small-wind technology for the urban environment — that is being able to bring wind technology now into the cities and the smaller communities,” he said. “These are small systems, very discreet and quiet, and they don’t need a high elevation to capture the wind.”
Around the world, he said, people are using small-wind technology, in combination with solar power, for things such as powering street lights or lighting parking lots. The energy collected from small-wind collection units can be stored and used to power anything, including homes.
BIRTH OF BE-WIND
BE-Wind began in spring 2007, when Berdan and world-renowned wind expert Tom Carbone began the quest to develop a new small-wind system. Their goal was to develop a prototype of a wind turbine with a new vertical axis design. That was when the EOW2 wind turbine was developed, and in January 2016, the product was brought to market.
According to BE-Wind’s website, the turbines “have a proprietary deflector system that creates optimum air flow and eliminates opposing wind.” The design also allows the turbines to operate efficiently in extreme wind conditions.
BE-Wind’s turbines come in three sizes — six feet, eight feet and 10 feet. The smallest unit is ideal for remote locations such as oil rigs in the ocean, and it can handle hurricane-force winds. The eight-foot unit is a bestseller for homes and ranches, Berdan said, and it offers a mid-sized power supply while still being compact.
The largest unit is geared toward industrial customers, such as restaurants or larger operations. Berdan said they can use multiple units and build a small microgrid or wind farm on a rooftop. The turbines are also designed to function as a marketing tool — they light up with LED lighting at nighttime, and BE-Wind can adorn them with a company’s name and logo to double as signage.
“What we’ve done is we’ve brought (to market) a small-wind technology to have as an energy source, with a cool style to it so it looks like art when it’s in motion and pleasing to the eye, and is really installable almost anywhere,” he said. “It’s more than just an energy source; it’s art, and it can be used as a marketing tool.”
THE OUTLOOK OF SMALL WIND
In the next five to 10 years, Berdan expects the small-wind energy sector to become a burgeoning, billion-dollar industry as more people jump on board with renewable energy.
“There is such a need to start bringing energy around the clock to homes, communities and businesses, and especially during events like we’ve just been through with the severe storms,” he said. “I think it’s going to be huge, and there’s a lot of people now working on different types of technology since they’ve seen mine.”
“There is such a need to start bringing energy around the clock to homes, communities and businesses, and especially during events like we’ve just been through with the severe storms.” — Michael Berdan
His reasoning on the future of small-wind energy is evidenced by the number of requests and emails he has received from around the globe for more information on BE-Wind’s systems. Although the response is slower in North America, where fuel and gas prices are cheaper, the response from other parts of the world — including in the Caribbean, South America, Central America, Europe and Asia — has been phenomenal, he said.
Already, Berdan has been contacted by three developers to collaborate on building green communities, which would utilize renewable energy to help new neighborhoods become self sufficient with power.
“As an example, Irma was a big one where a lot of the communities were waiting for large power companies to come in and fix the power,” he said. “You can actually have your own power source, so now you can be off the grid with multiple reusable technologies. You can have a small solar farm, a small wind farm, some backup generators and a storage system. You’re self-sufficient if the power goes out, and the community can be sustained or independent from the power grid. They’ll have energy even through the storm through backup power. I think we’re going to see that more and more, and it’s not just here in Florida.”