59 Field Street, Torrington
Sam Fairchild, CEO
The Answer Is Blowing in the Wind
Green mission: Â‘What makes Optiwind different is that we make it possible for you to own your own wind turbine and place it right where you need the power.Â’
Â”Think Globally/Act LocallyÂ” was a signature slogan of the 1970s environmental movement. In 2012, one Connecticut company is putting metal, new materials and design technology to advance tramadol no prescription idea in a whole new way.
TorringtonÂ’s Optiwind has developed a new wind power system that the company has begun marketing for onsite electricity generation. Onsite could be a farm, school, factory, hotel, distribution facility Â— maybe generic ativan a village.
Optiwind turbines are large structures by everyday Connecticut standards but are relatively small compared to the type of wind turbines typically found in large turbine wind farms. Currently the largest wind farm turbines can reach 600 feet in height, with 200-foot-long turbine blades. Even larger wind structures are on the horizon of some manufacturers.
The state of Connecticut’s venture-capital arm, Connecticut Innovations Inc. (CII), first invested in Optiwind in 2009 to help the company develop its first operating prototype, which is now located at Klug Farm in Torrington.
CII has invested $2 million in the company, $1 million through its Clean Technology Fund and another $1 million through its Eli Whitney Fund.
Says CII Senior Investment Associate Patrick O'Neill of the investments, "CII is very excited about the opportunity Optiwind represents not only for CII, but for the state of Connecticut in general. Optiwind has developed a remarkable new product that will help wean the United States off of fossil fuels while simultaneously create high paying engineering and manufacturing jobs in Connecticut."
Private VC firms have also joined in to power up the effort. Boston’s Charles River Ventures was an early investor while Stamford-based Centripetal Capital Partners came on board late last year.
Wind velocities are greater at higher elevations and the Optiwind turbine stands atop a 200-foot tower.
Onsite power generation by wind turbines is nothing new. The iconic image of a turbine to pump water on a Midwestern farm is etched into the American mindscape. But turning that wind into useable electricity is a far different matter.
The Optiwind design helps “accelerate” the wind by pushing the air off a large tube like structure, akin to a water tower, onto turbines mounted on its side.
The design of the Optiwind turbine allows the generation of electricity at what are considered Class 2 wind speeds: 12 to 14.5 miles per hour at the height of the turbines. (Class 2 wind may be eight mph wind on the ground, 10-11 mph at 33 feet above the ground, and 12-14.5 mph at 164 feet.)
Class 2 wind is common throughout most of Connecticut, with Class 3 on the shoreline and Class 4 in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. Class 6 winds (nearly 20 mph at 164 feet) are typical on outer Cape Cod.
According to Optiwind Marketing Director Jennifer Boshart, the company “hopes to see another pilot installation happening by the end of the year,” with sales beginning to ramp up in calendar 2013.
While the company is not currently providing pricing of the systems to the media, Boshart says “The turbines are competitive with the grid, without subsidy.”
The company expects to concentrate on its 300 kW turbine, designed for sites that use up to 500 megawatts (500,000 kilowatts) of electricity per year at a per-kW cost of eight to ten cents. For comparison purposes a 2,000-square-foot office in New Haven used 1,200 kilowatts last month at a cost of roughly 22.7 cents per kilowatt after transmission and delivery costs.
— Mitchell Young
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