Five Cavan brothers have reinvented the wind turbine by thinking small and using a breeze rather than chasing the high winds, writes Tom Prendeville.
Cavan-born Jim Smyth has designed a revolutionary new wind turbine that generates twice as much electricity as a conventional installation. The design – a huge technological breakthrough – allows electricity to be freely produced in places where there is little or no wind.
For years the thinking was that you had to build ever bigger wind turbines – 500-foot tall and more – with huge blades and locate them in windy places such as remote headlands or far out at sea.
In stark contrast, the Granard, Co Longford-based AirSynergy machines are much smaller and cheaper and use the principal of funnels to accelerate wind speed.
To ensure that the new type of wind turbines were stable in windy conditions, Jim Smyth had to create a radically new type of aerodynamically stable funnel that resembles a shroud. In recognition of the achievement, AirSynergy won the Technology of the Year Award at the Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards 2013.
The company, which employs 20 people, have licensed out their technology. In the best tradition of great ideas, the rest of the world is now beating a path to their door.
“It all began about six years ago, when I was out having a pint with a few friends,” says Jim.
“At the time my wife was thinking of getting a wind generator for our home in Cavan, and it came up in conversation.