Distributed Wind Startup Optiwind: Set For Takeoff?

We might soon be hearing a lot more from Optiwind, the startup aiming to compete in the space between small, home-style wind generation and large-scale wind-farm applications with a unique turbine design.

The company has taken on Arnold Worldwide to help build its brand, with an assignment that includes multiplatform digital, trade shows, content development, website design and multimedia that, Arnold announced in an emailed statement.


image via Optiwind

In its announcement, Arnold said Optiwind is planning “to launch in North and South America in 2013, with global expansion following from there.”

Founded in 2007, Optiwind is banking on selling onsite wind generation to commercial-sized power users, such as schools and factories, that are hoping to generate their own energy. Companies like Northern Power Systems and Southwest Windpower are targeting this distributed wind market with traditional turbine designs, but Optiwind says its Compact Wind Acceleration Turbine can deliver renewable energy at well below existing market prices.

The Optiwind system begins with a self-erecting tower topped by a rotating cylinder. Wind rushes around the cylinder and is forced through several smaller fans mounted on opposite sides of the structure.

The company says that compared to traditional three-bladed turbines, the smaller fans mean less noise and shadow flicker. The direct drive generators also result in lower maintenance costs, while shrouds around the individual fans make them safer for birds and bats, the company says.

Optiwind says its 150-kilowatt (kW) wind turbine can generate at least 250 megawatt hours of electricity per year, with a second, 300-kW model at least doubling that output, depending of course on wind conditions.

“What we have developed is an onsite commercial scale, renewable power source that produces power for less than the cost of power from the grid without the need for government subsidy, which is the ‘Holy Grail’ of energy generation, and we know we need to tell that story and nurture our brand from scratch,” Optiwind CEO Sam Fairchild said in the Arnold press release.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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