Wind turbine may fan local industry

Standing below a wind turbine installed on the roof of Otago Polytechnic's D block are (from left) polytechnic innovation workSpace manager Eva Gluyas, product design engineers Jess Dobson and William Early and Powerhouse Wind Ltd director Bill Currie. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Standing below a wind turbine installed on the roof of Otago Polytechnic's D block are (from left) polytechnic innovation workSpace manager Eva Gluyas, product design engineers Jess Dobson and William Early and Powerhouse Wind Ltd director Bill Currie. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
The installation of a wind turbine on the roof of an Otago Polytechnic building this week marks a step towards what its creator hopes will lead to a booming Dunedin industry.

After about five years of development, Powerhouse Wind Ltd's single-blade turbine went into production three months ago from its base of operations at the polytechnic.

Company director Bill Currie said bringing the turbine into ''pilot production'' and installing one on the roof of the polytechnic was the start of a journey which he hoped would lead to the creation of a prospering Dunedin industry.

''I'm not saying it's going to be easy ... but there is a potential to create an industry in Dunedin that employs people and makes a meaningful contribution,'' Mr Currie said.

The firm had about 10 orders for the product and hoped to fulfil about 40 in the first year of production.

''Obviously, we need to find a factory premises and we need to scale up some of the stuff we are doing.''

One of the best things about the product was that its components - many using revolutionary materials and production techniques - were produced by Dunedin companies.

''It really is a solidly Dunedin project.''

Mr Currie said the turbine generated enough to power a ''normal household'' on a ''good day''.

He would not reveal the cost of the turbine, but said it produced enough power to pay for itself, through energy savings, within about four years.

He wished to thank Otago Polytechnic for helping develop the product over the previous 18 months.

Otago Polytechnic innovation workSpace manager Eva Gluyas said she had so much faith in the product she had ordered one for her Orokonui house.

Installing one on the polytechnic was about extending the institution's ''sustainable campus'' initiative and showing off its links with the project, Ms Gluyas said.

The polytechnic's innovation workSpace - which helps develop commercial products - had worked on the development of the turbine and on marketing it, she said.

The product, which was a third of the weight of its nearest competitor, had great potential.

''It has the potential to become an iconic Dunedin brand.''


Did you read the review?

Sparrowhawk: Obviously not. It quite clearly states that it "Requires better infrastructure to be truly feasible". And that is in the USA. As far as NZ goes, there is no supporting infrastructure at all. Nor is there a local dealer to support nor any local after sales service or backup.  And on top of that, it costs over double the price. I chose to spend my money at a local business to keep some here in Dunedin working.

Quite frankly, I'm offended at being labelled an enviromentalist as this label couldn't be further from the truth. Sure, I purchased it to save gas but only so I can feed more gas into my V8.

Some food for thought. The human race is just like any other virus. We will keep multiplying and consuming all in our way until nothing is left. The most intelligent man on the planet has clearly stated that if we have not managed to get off this rock in the next 200 years, we are all doomed anyway.

So, just what exactly are you planning to save for the non-existent future generation and why are you bothering? 

Windy things

I don't disagree that they're a great thing and highly complementary to solar - we have a 5kw solar array and it's awesome! Council, maybe not in Dunedin but in Central, are a bit more restrictive. It's not just the 10m height, it's the acoustics that they worry about. Trying to keep it down to the councils levels is hard. It's put us off so far after discussions with them, we just chucked it in the too hard bucket. That's no way to encourage green energy. The Saphon turbine design gets round the noise thing quite nicely.

I've said it before, initiatives need to be government led (at some level), forcing us, at least on new builds, to make an effort at energy generation and saving, and maybe providing an incentive for retrofitting older houses with solar as Australia does.


There are few alternatives (not none) because people don't demand that the money be invested into the existing alternatives rather than more of the same. If you were serious about doing your bit, you'd sell the 'fleet' and by an electric motorcycle. They are on the market you know. Its not about saving money on 'high grade fuel'. It's about saving planetry resources. The amount of fuel it has already taken to manufacture you 'fleet' is huge. If people stopped buying the stuff they would very quickly decide to make something else instead. Still, you don't want to hear this. You want to believe that you are an environmentalist because you have a new motorcycle. Go right ahead.


Not necessarily. As long as you come in under the 10m mark, depending on where you place them they are still worth having and the council can't groan. Its a windy city we live in. But you do have to assess whether your section catches enough of it to make them viable. However, they are not an alternative to solar, but an adjunct to. With both you get as much natural resource covered as possible, and wind generators still spin at night when solar panels are asleep. The only time they are noisy is when the wind is wild, but then you cant really hear them from the racket the wind itself kicks up. Good investmant as part of an overall alternative to solely fossil fuel gereration.

The future of wind energy

A none twirly whirly quiet wind turbine. And designed by 2 ex-oil industry people too.

Sad thing is that it's a complete pain trying to get resource consent for anything wind related in Otago, even small scale turbines - as soon as they go up high enough to be useful, the council needs you to apply for RC and do a landscape report etc. Painful - turbines are cheap and available as is. Even Jaycar selsl them.

the face of the future

"Why wind power when
everyone else around the world have shelved it. Too expensive compared to solar. " - A little wide of the mark here. The website you linked to Juju1967 is an opinion piece. The Renewables Global Futures Report is robust and is a complement to the actual status of renewables around the world. We do have a choice to continue down Business as Usual and burn the remaining and increasingly hard to get fossil fuels until everything dramatically falls apart or to decarbonise. A planned decarbonisation will require a range of renewables as nothing is as portable and energy dense as oil. In NZ, wind complements solar and can be backed up by the hydro lakes, is able to power cars, buses, bikes and trains (and does some of that already), and increasing numbers of progressive homeowners are investing in solar and wind even although we have the most unfriendly market for small scale generation in the world. They obviously don't share the opinion that wind should be shelved.

And here's the Zero review for Speedfreak..


Sparrowhawk, Why would you be disgusted when there is no economically viable alternative? I'm sure the day will come when there is one but not at present.

Im doing my bit. Three months ago I purchased a new motorcycle to add to my fleet. It has done just over 400km and not yet used the $25.00 of high grade gas that I put in it.  According to the brochure it will do 74 miles per gallon so get off my case. 

Obsolete technology

Come on folks, get with the programme. Why wind power when everyone else around the world have shelved it. Too expensive compared to solar

Just saying



In 20 years, with more like you, we could all be dead . But yeah, it has been said that sometimes the only way to change the mind of certain (usually previous generations) people is to wait for them to die off. Sadly at the snails pace we're going that could be all of us. One of the things that is depressing me about this topic is the degree of selfishness that is coming out in these discussions. The only thing people seem to care about is themselves and their pockets. Not their kids and what it will be like for them. Not how the future generations will survive once all the resources are dug up ( copper and aluminium have already reached that place and are costing the earth). Just what they can wring out of it for themselves.

Sure, if you're paying

Otherwise Rob, I will stick with my V8 and happily pay the cost to run it. Not more miles per gallon but more smiles per gallon. And even if I did have the money, it's most likely I would go for a 2nd hand Lamborghini. There's just something about the sound of a screaming V12, and if it's running on Avgas, the smell is intoxicating. No electric car will ever come close to replicating this.

Chances are I won't be around for decades to come so my sportsbike's 10.3 second standing quarter at 235kph is good enough for me. Granted, it's a quick wee car, won't lift the front wheels at 160kph in third gear with a wee twist of the grip like the bike does though.

I'm a petrolhead through and through and may the oil continue to flow for as long as I'm still on this planet. Don't worry greenies, I'll be dead and buried in 20 years and then you can have all the electric cars you like.

Turbines to transport

"It's not going to make my car go ... It's an alternative to hydro energy, not a replacement for a fossil fuelled vehicle".

Household scale distributed generation allows home owners, renters and businesses to make decisions about how best to use the electricity produced. It can be used to charge electric bikes and electric cars - these are all available and in use in Dunedin now. But more importantly it is part of a larger transition to a necessary low carbon society, where alternatives to the wasteful single occupant car are provided by society - electric buses and rail cars. These are all possible now, but not yet provided. In the meantime, boosting small scale renewable generation through excellent innovation like the Thinair turbine helps both the household reduce energy bills (and gives householders more options) AND builds resilience into our electricity system - which we will need if we move to electrify transportation to the levels required, as the price of oil rises and cost of using it becomes clear.

How about electric cars?

Buy yourself an electric car and it will Speedfreak. Make it a Tesla and you'll be able to keep being a freak for decades to come (0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds).


It's not going to make my car go, Sparrowhawk. It's an alternative to hydro energy, not a replacement for a fossil fuelled vehicle.

Support this

Let's have more support for stuff like this and less for big oil. Get behind local industry.