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F1 designer develops small scale wind turbines
A FORMULA One aerodynamics expert is racing to produce wind turbines for the mass market.
Ben Wood was part of the Brawn GP racing team that produced the car in which Jenson Button won the world championship in 2009.
But since then he has turned his attentions to developing wind turbines, some as small as a dustbin lid, which can produce year-round energy for homes, businesses and a host of other applications.
Now he has moved his business, Anakata , out of the Oxford Centre for Innovation in New Road and set up production on the Osney Mead industrial estate.
Mr Wood, 42, a former pupil of Abingdon School, said: “Our turbines are made of plastic which brings the cost down and we can give customers a real alternative to fossil fuels.”
The smallest turbine is already creating a wave of interest with orders coming in from across Europe, way ahead of Mr Wood’s business plan.
He is looking to boost his four-strong team with two more workers as he moves into the former Oxford Instruments premises to start assembling the turbines.
He has won investment backing totalling £700,000 from business angels.
The small turbine, costing about £1,200, can be erected on scaffolding in a garden and is connected to batteries which can power devices such as a fridge or TV directly or even heat a swimming pool.
A working version is being trialled at Hill Farm, Steventon.
Mr Wood believes it could also be used effectively in the developing world.
In India, more than 300 million people are not connected to an electricity grid and one turbine could power a whole household.
He said: “It is for people like us to make products cheaper and better so these countries are not at the mercy of the energy companies.”
A larger £3,500 version could provide up to two thirds of a typical UK home’s electricity needs and be plugged into the National Grid, allowing any excess power generated to be sold at a profit.
Mr Wood’s F1 background has also ensured the turbines are almost silent, while the design helps prevent harm to wildlife.
He added: “It creates a more usable system for community power generation.”
Mr Wood believes the Government should be supporting wind power more effectively after Energy Minister John Hayes said there were enough wind farms in the pipeline.
“The Government should be looking to encourage new technologies to address the problems people talk about, rather than getting a soundbite,” he said.