Norhybrid brings power to the people
Smart wind turbines for renewable energy
Business & Sports Editor
The Norwegian American
In a twist on a political slogan, Carl Ivar Holmen, CEO of Norhybrid says they’re bringing “power to the people.”
The latest Norwegian innovation in sustainability coming to the United States is the urban wind turbine, a compact, easy-to-assemble device installed on a roof that harnesses solar and wind power to create energy where it’s being consumed and is user-controlled. They can be placed in clusters to maximize availability.
In February, Holmen and new Chief Commercial Officer Trond Sørensen visited Minneapolis and New York.
“We’re part of a business incubator in Norway and they have a relationship with BARN (Business Accelerator Resource Network at Norway House in Minneapolis),” said Holmen via Zoom from Norway House. “Minnesota is one of the key markets for our technology. Wind conditions and their policies supporting renewables are good. We wanted to see if BARN could be helpful with networking. So far, we’ve been very pleased.”
The conditions are ripe for Norhybrid since President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act calls for an emphasis on sustainability and renewable energy.
“We have escalated our plan to enter the U.S. market a lot due to that, which has yielded a lot of interest and additional money for investments in this industry,” said Sørensen. “We are using the coming months to plan and prepare for the introduction and then expect to hit the ground running in the first quarter of next year.”
“The cool thing is that we are a Norwegian company, it’s our innovation, and we should be proud of that,” said Holmen. “When we come to manufacturing, it’s going to be made in the United States by American workers. We have a partner in Johnstown, Pa., who will do manufacturing assembly logistics. That’s important for us because we get the high quality product that we need and the customer wants.”
They used the expertise of aeronautic engineers to figure out how to get the turbine to work and pilots to understand aerodynamics of airplanes. Among the challenges was to optimize the production process when and where needed. Norway has almost 24 hours of light in the summer with that flipped in the winter, so with the energy management system, power can be balanced. They’re much easier to install than off-shore wind turbines. Holmen says offshore wind won’t be in Norway until 2030.
“It’s on a vertical axis, as opposed to horizontal, and spins counterclockwise,” said Holmen. “There are very few moving parts, very little operations and maintenance required. It’s simple to manufacture and assemble. The challenge for renewable energy is grid congestion – not enough capacity to get the energy from where it is produced to where it needs to be. Our approach is producing energy where the consumption is, circumventing the grid congestion, by bringing, literally, the power to the people.”
“There’s 2.7 times the wind speed with this rotor type,” added Sørensen. “How do you get maximum energy out of the wind? That’s the beauty of this model. We optimized the wind production to a normal scale. During a normal wind speed situation, we have the best pickup of energy production. Winter is pretty low on solar, but wind could be good. Summer you can extend it further. That’s where these energy management systems come in.”
Norway was also a pioneer in hydroelectric power. How does the urban wind turbine fit?
“We’re not competing,” said Holmen. “Norway is a bit ahead of the curve in terms of innovation. We have a very high adoption for EVs (electric vehicles). As a consequence, you need more power. We are adding to it with our solution. Hydroelectric power has a base load type of energy. We need to build up solar, wind, and other types of renewables quickly to meet demand. That’s why our solution is really good. We combine the two and also can modulate this with the use of batteries. We provide a much more stable type of energy combining them rather than using just wind or just solar.”
“This gap between consumption and available energy is widening,” said Sørensen. “In Norway, no one is talking about building out more hydro energy because we want to keep the rest of the waterfalls and everything in its current state. Whenever we talk about expanding power production, it is other renewable solutions. That means more focus on sun and wind. Local wind is where we come in.”
The pair is excited about a demonstration showcase in Farsund in the spring and the U.S. prospects.
“We are very keen to get into the U.S. market because we see significant opportunity for our technology here,” said Holmen. “We can help speed up the transition to 100% renewable energy with the right partners in the United States.”
This article originally appeared in the April 2023 issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.