Solar and wind energy are combining into one — thanks to a new super-efficient energy system designed by the French startup Unéole.
Built to power city buildings, this innovative “mixed-energy” platform boosts the charging capacity of wind turbines with a solar-powered photovoltaic roof. By combining solar technology with wind energy, Unéole hopes to create the most effective and low-cost renewable energy system for buildings.
Although it is a myth that solar power does not work in winter, both photovoltaic panels and wind turbines are weather-dependent, which can make them less reliable. For example, the typical amount of energy produced by solar panels reduces by around 10% on a cloudy day — if the clouds are thick enough, that percentage can be as high as 25%.
Solar panels are getting better at operating in darker conditions, but they still need at least some sunlight to charge. But Unéole’s technology is able to charge overnight, thanks to its wind turbines. The company claims this system increases energy production by 40%.
Unéole has also sought to reduce the environmental impact of its mixed-energy technology. Each wind turbine is made out of mostly recycled or recyclable materials, like steel and aluminum. The company makes these recycled parts close to its operating sites, which reduces the production’s carbon footprint from transportation.
The system can be installed on a building’s flat roof, where the wind is less disturbed by other structures in a busy urban environment. One installation might include around 2,000 wind turbine and solar panel hybrids, though the scale changes based on the roof’s size.
At the moment, a system for a 1,000-square-meter (or roughly 10,800-square-foot) roof would cost in the range of €300,000 to €500,000 to install. That’s a cost of between $320,000 and $530,000.
Unéole plans to make its technology available to the commercial market in France by the end of 2023. Homeowners in neighboring countries will then be able to purchase the mixed energy platform in 2024.