Renewable Energy as a Basis for the Global Economy: An Interview With Poduhvat
Poduhvat has a goal of replacing fossil fuels as a basis for the global economy with renewable energy. Their inventions, designed and developed with the intention of helping bring this goal to realization, include wind turbines applicable to urban environments and capable of generating up to five times more power than conventional ones, unlimited range ships that can travel the world without the need for stopping to refuel and, among others, devices for harvesting kinetic energy from oceanic currents.
The company’s innovations have enjoyed international recognition and have won awards like the Best Climate-Smart Idea Award from the Serbian Ministry of Environmental Protection in cooperation with UNDP, as well as challenges such as the Balkan Venture Forum. They’ve also made Poduhvat one of the winners at the Open Innovations Forum and the NewEnergy global startup fest.
Hoping to learn more about the company and their technologies, their challenges and their future projects, I spoke to Nenad Paunovic, company co-founder and CEO.
Could you please share with our readers how Poduhvat began?
Nenad Paunovic: Poduhvat began in 2006 in Serbia with the concept of a fluid, kinetic conversion device, which was our first patent (Eurasian patent) and a conceptual base for all of our energy conversion technology today. Since then we’ve gone a long way and have fully developed or are working on the development of several cutting-edge products in the area of wind, wind-solar and hydrokinetic energy conversion, as well as on advanced transport systems in the marine, land and air sectors.
What does the word Poduhvat mean and why have you chosen it to be the name of your company?
NP: Poduhvat is a Serbian word which can be translated into English as words like “endeavor” or, most literally, “undertake.” However, there is one word in the English language to which Poduhvat translates that is also related to a particular vision of the future, which had directly inspired our choice for the name of our company; that word is “Enterprise.” Of course, the most recognized use of this word comes from Star Trek and their “Enterprise” starship.
A long time ago, when I was searching for a translation of this word into Serbian, the first result which I discovered was the word “Poduhvat.” At some later time, because of this but also for other reasons, I decided to name our first company “Poduhvat.” So, in a way, yes — we are “Trekkies.”
However, Poduhvat is much more than a Sci-Fi series inspired name. It is a vision with practical action for a technologically and socially advanced society that serves as a base for true happiness and freedom for humankind.
Poduhvat technologies have won awards for innovation in several areas, including renewable energy, transport and real estate. What would you say is the area your technologies could have the highest impact on?
NP: At the moment it is hard to predict in which area our technologies will have the highest impact. That depends on many factors, such as, for example, on the area that will be of most interest to our first, large strategic investors, but also on political, social, ideological and economic developments globally. But if I could guess I would pick marine transport and energy, where our TRIVAL clean unlimited range ship can prove to be a technological flagstone for a new way in the global marine transport and passenger industry.
Your patented Vetar wind turbine devices can produce up to five times more energy than traditional wind turbines. In brief, how do they work and what else distinguishes them from other wind turbines on the market?
NP: They work by using a combination of several different functioning features, like a special shape of housing which creates pressure differences around and inside the wind turbine. These differences in return increase air fluid velocity inside the turbine and thus yield a higher energy output.
Our wind turbine also features two counter rotating rotors for increased efficiency and lower vibrations, a turbulence control mechanism for increased efficiency and some other complementing inventions and innovations. When combined together under the same climate conditions, all these features create a power output that is several times higher than that of same rotor-sized conventional wind turbines.
Being smaller in size, safer, quieter and vibration-free, our Vetar wind turbine is much more applicable to any environment and, as such, competent for meeting the essential condition for true energy localization as a major step in realizing the 3rd industrial revolution and a global energy and production increase.
As part of project Trival, Poduhvat is developing the first non-nuclear unlimited range ship, powered in part by wind turbines and in part by solar panels. Could you please tell us more about this project? At what stage is it now?
NP: By combining wind energy conversion, which is only possible in practical terms with small but highly productive Vetar wind turbines, together with solar foils energy, Trival, our non-nuclear, unlimited range ship concept makes it possible to significantly cut total fuel expenses by eliminating — in large extent or in full — the need to use traditional hydrocarbon sources of energy. The fact that it is fully electric also lowers maintenance costs as there are much fewer components prone to malfunction and wear and tear.
As fuel costs account for 50-60 percent of total costs of marine shipping, our TRIVAL concept could make marine transport not just cheaper, but more profitable and valuable in terms of sustainable impact, too.
The Trival project is still in the development phase, but some aspects of its design, like specific wind sails which actually consist of arrays of two and three Vetar 15 wind turbines, are completely ready and can be adjusted for installation on other already existing ships.
What would you say are the greatest challenges your company is facing?
NP: The possibility to present the whole picture of our vision and all advantages of our projects to a wider investing and business community around the world. All pitching events which we attended so far were designed for specific products to be presented in three-five minutes. It is realistically impossible to meaningfully present the entire ecosystem of our products that cover several different industrial sectors in a such short time.
Being in Serbia we also have very limited support of the state and a virtually nonexistent venture capital community.
We need opportunities, policy and business meetings at which we would have time to present all the aspects of our projects in peace, including their essential importance for the 3rd industrial revolution and an increased aggregate energy efficiency and productivity through a safe energy production systems localization and advanced transport systems (like our Trival unlimited range ship). With the current centralistic energy production approach and obsolete energy conversion and transfer techniques, especially in the wind energy conversion industry, achieving aggregate energy efficiency higher than the current maximum of 20 percent (in Japan) is simply impossible. Very few people who are in investing in the industry are aware of these facts and therefore seem to hold a limited view for realizing the full capacity of our efforts and projects.
As mentioned earlier, our goal is to have the whole ecosystem in place, to jump start the new way of thinking and match it with real projects, and this is something that would require finding and involving a lot of partners and organizations ready to support our efforts.
How do you ideally see the future of Poduhvat?
NP: As a global leader in clean energy and transport industries.
Are you currently working on any other interesting projects that you would like to share with our readers?
NP: Yes, we are working on integrated renewable energy production and high-power Electric Vehicle chargers. We currently have two major projects. One involves small to medium-sized VETROLIT PC (Power Charger) devices that combine one Vetar wind turbine, solar panels, power storage and a 150 kW DC power charger.
Then there is a MW class VRELO. VRELO stands for Vanguard Renewable Energy Logistics Object and is designed to unify renewable energy power generation, both from wind and the sun, power storage, real estate and large-scale electric vehicle super power charger infrastructure.
This would make it possible to integrate commercial content with sustainable infrastructure in power generation, distribution, telecommunication and traffic. It would also enable projecting urban organization in a completely new plane.
We have also envisioned ELVO3 high-performance modular electric vehicles that could be SUVs, trucks or racing cars, depending on the modules attached to them. There are few other things, too, but it would take quite some time to talk about them all.