Renewable Energy: FloDesign Wind Turbine Attains New Financing and New CEO

Flodesign Wind Turbine Corp closed a $34.5 million Series B financing in December of 2009. Series A venture investor Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers was joined by a syndicate of three major new investors in the Series B: a Goldman Sachs managed investment fund, Technology Partners and VantagePoint Venture Partners. Flodesign is based in Wilbraham, Massachussetts, was also recently awarded a $8.3 million grant from the US Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency.

As of January 4, 2010 Flodesign has named a new CEO: Mr. Lars A. Andersen to lead the transition from research and development to full blown manufacturing of renewable energy technology. “I am very pleased with the prominent venture investors who are backing this company,” said Mr. Andersen, “It will be an exciting journey to build a world‐class company applying leading edge technology in the wind sector.” Andersen was previously president of Vestas China taking it to become one of the largest multinational-owned wind suppliers in the world. He received a degree in electrical engineering from the Engineering College of Aarhus in 1990 and has advanced degrees in business from the INSEAD Business School (2007) and the IMD Executive Education Program (2008). The company's last CEO and also a co-founder, Mr. Stanley Kowalski III, is still signed on as Vice President.

Flodesign has a few great selling points worth going over. First is the "mixing vortex" the design produces. The mixing vortex is created by combining slow wind from the inner diameter of the turbine with faster wind deflected by the outer rim of the turbine. This mixing vortex would more efficiently allow wind to flow with less restriction allowing for a 50% increase in power generation over other designs. Secondly, this technology takes up less space than larger three blade turbines, which makes for easier transportation and assembly. Vestas wind blades, in great demand in China, are made by an army of skilled workers, whereas Flodesign's entire system could potentially be made in a completely automated manufacturing plant for rapid production. Third, these turbines can be placed closer together due to their more compact design. Larger and traditional wind turbines need much more spacing than Flodesign. Larger turbines also have a potential to explode if the wind is too strong; the fourth advantage of the Flodesign is that it can withstand wind speeds that would stall the other designs.

Expect big things from Flodesign as they begin to scale up their business. There aren't any scheduled Flodesign wind farms, but that is likely soon to change. One can speculate that the company is just waiting for the US market to come through with demand, perhaps with revamped climate change legislation which has stalled since 2009. Now that the Health Reform bill issues are resolved, attention may be directed to climate change, renewable energy, and wind technology.

Photo Credit: Flodesign