Could wind energy be the answer to South Africa’s power needs?

Unlike some other wind energy solutions, the dragonflies work with low wind speeds. Teir energy harvesting potential can be modelled using computational fluid dynamics. Teir ‘wings’ can be made of fabric and easily ‘trimmed’ for different conditions. Also, the rudder can be disengaged so that the dragonfly turns to the wind at higher wind speeds. In current iterations the wings can be up to 3.5m in length wings – larger sizes are being researched. Te wings can be multi coloured or camouflaged, depending on their

application. Te dragon fly’s main body can

be secured to the ground or base structure to prevent theft. And the fabric superstructure is inexpensive (and worthless without the generating system), further detracting would-be thieves.

REAL-WORLD CASE STUDY South Africa is one region that the WITT’s inventors believe could benefit from their solution. Power needs in South Africa are many. Power cuts occur frequently, which greatly affect hotels and leisure facilities (and mean that power is often needed to charge generators). WITT Energy won a much-

coveted place at Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst 8 event to visit Cape Town and Johannesburg in March 2020. Te company’s founders visited energy companies and townships to understand the needs and experience first-hand the power problems in the townships. A huge problem they noted was that electrical power is often stolen – with rows of ‘live’ cables going into the shacks and sheds. WITT’s aim is to help bring power solutions harvesting the natural

occurring energy in a clean way, using the resources that are already there. Te Energy Catalyst 8 funding

opportunity opens in June 2020 and the company will be applying, with the aim of building and testing its dragonflies.

OVERALL POTENTIAL It is too early to say how much impact the WITT technology could have in areas such as South Africa. However, the firm currently has two systems for testing a small six-degree of motion simulator, as well as a large Fanuc robotic arm for its bigger concepts – such as tidal WITTs. Te company can take the motion data and input it into its system, which will inform interested parties how much power they will be able to achieve by deploying the dragonflies or other WITT solutions, such as its various water energy concepts. 25

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