Startup Green Energy Tech Installs First Small-Wind Concentrators

If you’ve ever walked through a skyscraper-laden city on a windy day, you know how big buildings can intensify the gales, creating wind tunnels that accelerate the gusts so that they blow off hats and flip up skirts. Now a 3-year-old Akron, Ohio-based startup called Green Energy Technologies wants to use that same wind-tunnel effect to generate small-wind power more efficiently.

The company has developed a 60-kilowatt, five-blade turbine that comes with what it calls a shroud, which looks like a sort of shallow metal funnel. The shroud creates a wind-tunnel effect in front of the blades, amplifying the wind velocity by a factor of two — so that a 5 mph wind that enters the shroud reaches 10 mph by the time it hits the blade — allowing the system to harness even low-speed winds and ultimately produce more electricity from them.

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Green Energy claims its WindCube, unveiled last month at the Windpower conference in Chicago and intended for commercial and industrial buildings in urban and suburban locations, can generate power from winds as slow as 5 mph. Over the course of a year, Green Energy says the system can generate 100-130 megawatt-hours — about the same as a traditional 100-foot-tall turbine with blades 50-60 feet in diameter — in places with winds that average 12 mph, says Mark Cironi, president and founder of the company. For context, 12 mph is fairly windy, and is the average wind speed in cities such as Boston, Lubbock, Tex., Fargo, North Dakota, Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kan.
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Stimulus Starting to Warm Up Cleantech Funding

Despite the fact that cleantech investment fell off a cliff in the first quarter of the year, talk of the “seeds of revival” (i.e. investment) is starting to creep back into both clean power projects and cleantech ventures thanks to the funds from the stimulus package. While layoffs are still hitting industries like solar and wind, and biofuels are struggling across the board, if this morning’s funding news is any indicator, then it looks like the federal funds are actually starting to thaw the pocketbooks of the capital holders. Just a little bit.
This morning we’ve heard about three different cleantech investments in smart grid, distributed clean power and even, gasp, next-gen biofuels. GE and a group of investors including Altira, Rockport Capital Partners, NGP Energy Technology Partners, and the venture capital arm of Chevron Technology Ventures, have invested $10 million into small wind builder Southwest Windpower. The stimulus package allocates $872 million over 10 years for federal tax credits for distributed clean power generation like small wind.
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Zoho Takes a Page from Google: Adds Notebook Import, Plug-In

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Quick, where’s that important note you need right this second? If it’s in Google Notebook, you might want to consider looking at Zoho. They’re taking a page right out of Google and seizing an opportunity. Last week Google announced they were shutting down several services: Jaiku, Google Video, and Dodgeball to name a few. Google Notebook is on the list as well, although it’s not shutting down at this time. It won’t see any additional development however, nor will the browser extension work with it. Effectively, you could keep jotting notes with it but without an expected future for the application or usable plug-in, do you want to?

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A Big Year for Small Wind: Mariah Power Closes Cash

mariahpowerimage1Startups haven’t been seeing a lot of venture-capital money lately, but Mariah Power, a company with a small vertical-axis turbine that can turn low-speed gusts of wind into electricity, recently managed to squeeze cash out of the slowed-down funding environment. The company — named for the song “They Call the Wind Mariah” from the Clint Eastwood musical film “Paint Your Wagon,” — raised its second round of funding, with investors including Noventi Ventures, Greenhouse Capital, BigSky Partners and the Sierra Angels.

Mariah didn’t say how much money it secured, but CEO Mike Hess said in April that the company was seeking $5 million to $10 million, which it hoped to close by June. Before this latest round, the company had already raised $1.25 million, made up of $750,000 in angel funding last year and $500,000 earlier this year.

The cash comes at the end of quite a year for the Reno, Nev.-based startup. Aside from raising money, Mariah earlier this year produced 50 turbines, demonstrated its Windspire turbine at the National Mall next to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, and officially launched Windspire in June. (By November, Mariah had received more than 4,000 orders.)

And in October, the company announced that it had partnered with MasTech Manufacturing to begin producing and distributing Mariah’s turbines in Manistee, Mich. The companies expect to ramp up to 1,000 turbines per month by the end of 2009.

But Mariah is by no means the only company working to grow the small-wind market. A whole crop of companies are targeting the sector, with startups such as Quiet Revolution, Renewable Devices, Marquiss Wind Power, Emergya Wind Technologies and France Eoliennes also raising money this year (see stories on Quiet Revolution here and here).
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