Climate change and environmental degradation are threatening us. To counter them, Europe needs a new growth strategy that makes the EU a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy. The European Green Deal is our roadmap for making the European economy sustainable. More and more companies and organisations are subscribing to this demand for sustainability.
To (further) develop their circular and sustainable initiatives, organisations and companies can turn to Cleantech Flanders. After all, Cleantech Flanders wants to promote the implementation of clean technologies in order to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world.
One of the partners of Cleantech Flanders is Wingardium Energy, a Belgian company that distributes KOHILO wind turbines in Europe. Soon they will also start as a distributor of ClearVue PV, glass that generates energy. We spoke to CEO Ludo Loyens about some of the innovative cleantech initiatives they are involved in and about doing business in corona time.
Can you introduce Wingardium Energy?
"My daughter and I founded Wingardium Energy in 2017. We are the official distributor of KOHILO wind turbines in Europe. But we want to sell more than just wind turbines. We help our prospects and customers to generate clean and pure energy, mainly for their own consumption. Our customers are mostly large production companies that need a lot of energy for their operations".
How do you make a difference?
"Our wind turbines cannot be compared to the classic wind turbines we know here. KOHILO turbines do not have blades but operate with a vertical axis that rotates more easily, even at low wind speeds. Moreover, KOHILO wind turbines have no moving external parts and are therefore bird and bat friendly. But the most important thing is the storage of the generated energy. You can't plan for wind and you can't quite plan for the need for electricity. The turbines store the generated energy with a unique hydraulic storage system".
You are active all over Europe. I can imagine that the impact of the corona crisis on your activities was not insignificant.
"That's right. Unfortunately, we were no longer able to visit our (future) customers. And we want to make a difference with our services. During the time that we were 'locked up' in our office, we invested in improving our tool to calculate the energy efficiency of our turbines. During the corona months, we built up various databases in the tool, based on European weather maps and our own weather stations in Flanders. We looked up wind parameters for all cities and towns in Flanders, the Netherlands, France, Sweden and Germany and added them to our tool. We can now quickly call them up when making on-site calculations for our prospects and customers".
How do you work exactly?
"We check very specifically how many KWh of energy our customers need per year. We use our tool to calculate which installation best suits their consumption, and we want to overload it as little as possible. We calculate per quarter of an hour how much KW of energy can be generated by the wind. Based on the energy consumption mapped out and the prognosis of yield from wind energy, we can offer the right solution. We calculate in detail the annual as well as the monthly yield of the turbine we propose".
But you don't limit your activities to wind turbines?
"That's right, we try to offer a total solution. When it comes to innovation, we often work together with other partners. For example, as part of Stadslab2050 in Antwerp, we have developed the "hive" as a model contribution to a solution for a climate-neutral city. The "hive" is a combination of a turbine with solar panels and energy storage on the roof of a high-rise office and apartment building, depending on the roof load. Our smaller models can be placed on industrial buildings or office buildings of 9 storeys high.
In 2019 we were also asked by Cleantech Flanders to participate in a call for the city of Halle. The Innovative Public Procurement (IDP) programme of the Flemish government investigated which innovative energy generation could be realised. Halle wanted to switch to green energy for all its street lighting. We proposed our wind turbines and not our commercial lighting system We proposed lanterns with small wind turbines on top with an energy storage system. In the end, another solution was chosen.
Did the corona times also offer you new opportunities?
"Actually, it did. During corona, we also started looking for other energy-efficient products that we offer in combination with the KOHILO wind turbines for a sustainable energy supply for buildings. For example, we are now working with the Australian listed ClearVue PV. They produce energy-producing glass. The glass is based on a technology in which ultraviolet and infrared components of sunlight are converted into electricity and visible light is transmitted. Currently, they manage to generate 30 watts per 1m² of glass. This has enormous potential to make tall glass office buildings, especially in combination with our wind turbines, energy-neutral"
You are contributing to the European Green Deal by increasing the energy efficiency of buildings. Are you also active in other sectors?
"Yes, we have developed some concepts such as the charging station for electric and hydrogen vehicles and bicycles. Based on solar and wind energy, we produce green energy for vehicles and contribute to a cleaner and healthier form of transport.
Initially, we want to carry out a pilot project in which electric bicycles and scooters will be charged. Although the option already exists, we will only add the hydrogen system in the future".
What should our economy look like after the corona crisis?
"Genuine innovation should be supported even more. There are many start-ups with very innovative ideas, but it is often difficult to find support. It would be good if these start-ups could be given the opportunities that are sometimes only available to big players. Cleantech Flanders can help with this.
What is your ambition? What does the future of Wingardium Energy look like?
"With the developments we are now seeing on the electricity market, we strongly believe in the direct consumption of green energy: whoever generates the energy, also consumes it or sells it locally without using the grid. Everyone will have to do their bit to unburden the grid. So we remain committed to energy efficiency and storage.
Are you also looking for a cleantech solution? Or do you have your own cleantech application? Become a partner of Cleantech Flanders!
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