Future in wind, but cash needed

Bill Currie
Bill Currie
A Dunedin company is looking for $700,000 to start building wind turbines for burgeoning and potentially lucrative markets overseas.

Powerhouse Wind wants to start low-volume production of its single-blade turbine to supply domestic customers and send demonstration machines overseas.

It has been talking to companies in India, where government subsidies of up to half the project cost encourage small-scale, village-level wind-power generation.

Powerhouse Wind director Bill Currie confirmed company representatives met those of some ''quite big'' Indian companies during a Dunedin City Council-supported trip.

The companies, based in the Mumbai area, were ''very interested'' in seeing how the company's Thinair turbine could improve electricity supply to often off-grid villages, homes and businesses.

There was ''significant potential'' for localised, cost-effective wind-energy generation in populous and energy-hungry India, and in other developing countries, Mr Currie said.

There was similar potential in the United Kingdom and Germany, where feed-in tariffs rewarded consumers for returning electricity to the national grid.

''But we have to manufacture the turbines to get them into the market ... to the people who make the decisions,'' Mr Currie said.

''So we are at an important point for the company - we have to find some new investment to produce what we need to grow.''

The company would need $700,000 to turn more than two years of test results and development improvements into low-volume production.

Dunedin and New Zealand businesses would build the parts but Powerhouse Wind - based in a small workshop in central Dunedin - would assemble and test the turbines at a new facility in the city.

As manufacturing and assembly ramped up, Powerhouse Wind wanted to build and install up to 40 turbines a year for domestic and overseas ''test'' markets, Mr Currie said.

''We have to get machines out there and overseas to, especially, the companies, government and non-government organisations that make the decisions,'' the former Fisher and Paykel engineer said.

''It's time to move out of the prototype phase and into production, and we need investment.

''It's going to be a make-or-break year.''

The company's turbine and complementary business system won the Otago round of the 2010 New Zealand CleanTech Challenge in October.

It continues to collect data from its Thinair turbine at a property in Waitati.

- stu.oldham@odt.co.nz

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