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Small Wind Innovators: San Diego’s Helix Wind

| Friday June 12th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Incorporated in September 2006, San Diego’s Helix Wind is looking to leverage the novel design of its growing line of vertical axis wind turbines to secure a place in the rapidly growing market for small wind systems. Less efficient than their horizontal axis counterparts, vertical axis wind turbines are nonetheless gaining credibility across a wide range of applications and sites, from densely populated urban areas to rural and remote installations.
Aesthetic, rugged and practical with a small physical footprint, it’s the proprietary, helical design of the company’s small-scale VAWTs–which maximize surface area and capture wind blowing from any direction–that enable them to make the most of light, as well as strong and variable wind conditions, according to the company.
Interest in the company’s products is surging. Management announced two contracts so far this month, its first two production runs have sold out, and it’s sitting on an order backlog of $11.3 million, with forward sales of 4,500 units spread over the next few years.


The Helix of Small Wind
Helix is building its business around a line-up of five helical VAWTs that range up from the 300-Watt Helix D1 to the 50-kW Helix D15000. Its mainstays at present are the 2.5-kW Helix S322 and the 5-kW Helix S594.
The company’s VAWTs are built to run efficiently, quietly and with high reliability while withstanding rough and remote conditions. They can operate off-grid or grid-connected. Manufacturing takes place in Thailand and China with current capacity totaling 10,000 units per year.
Management recently announced two new contracts. One highlights the potential of Helix’s small wind systems in urban areas and commercial markets. The other hints at the potential for such systems to be used to provide clean, renewable off-grid power to remote industrial installations, in this case in the oil and gas industry.
On June 9, Helix announced a joint development agreement with CheckPoint Process Pumps & Systems to provide small wind and renewable energy solutions for the oil and gas industry at remote wellhead locations. The partners expect an initial cost-effective solution to be installed by the end of this year.
“Oil and gas producers are highly motivated to adopt renewable energy solutions and have been implementing stringent policies to progressively reduce their impact on the environment,” commented CheckPoint CEO Andy Elliot.
“A turnkey, wind-powered system for many thousands of remote field locations offers greater reliability and safety over traditional systems, including even the newest solar-powered ones, reduces maintenance overhead, and enables field locations to reduce or eliminate emissions at latitudes where solar solutions cannot be economically justified. It’s a unique win/win for our customers and for the environment.”
Helix-Synergy: Small Wind in the Urban & Commercial Sectors
On June 3, Helix announced a joint distribution agreement with Synergy California LP. A first joint project aims to install 25 Helix Wind S594 VAWTs at the Oklahoma Medical Research Facility in Oklahoma City. The facility will be Oklahoma’s second gold-certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building and first research lab.
When the project is completed, 25 S594 wind turbines will be integrated into ducted-shrouds of the building making it the first micro-wind farm on a building in the world, according to Helix.
“The strategic distribution agreement with Synergy California moves small wind into the mainstream of new urban development projects by providing efficient electrons with an elegant aesthetic view,” Helix Wind chairman and president Scott Weinbrandt stated in a news release.
“Providing a solution to reduce the cost of traditional carbon based fossil fuel is a huge step forward in reducing carbon footprint in major cities. The deployment of Helix Wind turbines in support of a major research center in an urban setting is a key milestone for us, and we’re proud to be a renewable energy solutions provider to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.”


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