Wind Turbine Co Making Progress


We first reported about WTC’s work in an UFTO Note 12 Dec 1996. The story is the same, except for the tremendous progress they’ve made in less than 3 years — pretty much according to their original plan!

The material below was adapted from the executive summary of their current business plan.

Wind energy is the fastest growing segment of the renewable energy industry and is by far the most economic form of grid-connected renewable electricity. Today, wind generated electricity costs as little as 5¢/kWh, and installed global wind energy capacity has increased by more than 25% annually since 1990. It now exceeds 11,000 MW. In 1998 alone, over 2,000 MW with a value exceeding $2 billion was installed. This figure is expected to increase to $5 billion by 2003.

The Wind Turbine Company (“WTC”) has developed new wind turbine technology that promises to slash 30% or more from the cost of wind generated power compared with today’s wind turbines. WTC did a ground-up, total system-level design of a 2-bladed downwind turbine (i.e. the turbine rotor blades operate downwind of the tower) whose principal advantage lies in its ability to shed excessive wind loads. This is in contrast to conventional upwind machines (i.e. blades upwind of the tower), which must be built sufficiently strong, rigid and consequently heavy, to absorb all foreseeable wind loads and avoid catastrophic blade-tower strikes.

Since the wind pushing on the blades causes them to bend in the direction the wind is blowing, blades oriented downwind of the tower can be made much less rigid than blades upwind of the tower. WTC’s turbine will weigh only 60% as much as a comparably rated 3-blade, upwind turbine. Its lighter weight will permit WTC’s turbine to operate higher above ground (100 meters or more) than is economic for upwind turbines, thus exposing it to higher winds resulting in more energy production. Lower weight and higher energy capture combine to provide a substantial reduction in the cost of wind generated electricity. The design incorporates a “yaw” braking mechanism to dampen the response to sudden changes in wind direction, a feature lacking in earlier downwind designs by Carter and others.

Windfarms using the WTC Turbine will be able to will produce power for an unsubsidized price of 3.5¢/kWh or less, including all capital and O&M.

WTC was founded in 1989 and has invested over $6 million in its technology. In 1995, WTC was selected by DOE for a $22 million contract to develop a 250 kW proof-of-concept (“POC”) turbine, followed by two full-scale 1000 kW wind turbines, over a 6-year period. This is the second largest wind energy contract ever awarded by DOE and the largest contract ever awarded by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). The POC turbine should be operational in early 2000. (I have a photo I can send on request – jpeg format).

In 1998, WTC received a $950,000 contract from the California Energy Commission to develop a 500 kW commercial prototype to be developed early in 2000, following completion of initial POC testing. This unit will be operational in mid 2000. Commercial sales of 500 kW units will start in 2001, when WTC also plans to begin development of a 1000 kW commercial prototype.

To overcome market penetration barriers due to developers taking a wait-and-see attitude over concerns about technology and financial risk, WTC will develop and operate its own windfarms. In parallel with its manufacturing operation, WTC will establish project development and operating entities to manage windfarms using WTC’s equipment.

WTC’s initial project development strategy is to focus on the U.S. market where there is ample opportunity and relatively easy and inexpensive accessibility for Company personnel to ensure successful windfarm development and operation. WTC has already begun discussions with potential project participants and sources of financing for two separate projects. WTC is also looking to form partnerships with existing independent power developers to further leverage its project development effort.

WTC is now seeking up to $5 million in additional funding to satisfy match funding requirements under its NREL and CEC contracts, hire additional staff, develop its initial windfarm opportunities, and establish strategic partnerships with potential suppliers and customers. A detailed Business Plan is available upon execution of WTC’s Confidentiality Agreement.

For further information, please contact:

Lawrence W. Miles, President
The Wind Turbine Company, Bellevue, WA 98004

Sanford J. Selman, Managing Director
Energy & Environmental Ventures LLC
Weston, CT 06883

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