Sustainable Business Oregon: Genesis Wind eyes wind energy market opportunity
Author: Christina Williams, Sustainable Business Oregon editor
Posted: August 15, 2012

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Genesis Wind Inc., a startup with a novel design for wind turbines, is fresh from a successful trial run in eastern Oregon and getting ready to bring its product to market.

Genesis is in residence at the Portland State University Business Accelerator and is backed by about $7 million from the founder and individual investors.

Founded by energy entrepreneur Harry Lee in 2008, Genesis applies concepts from automobile technology to develop what Lee calls linear wind turbines.

"It's just like with a car, you have a piston moving up and down," Lee said.

The Genesis turbine takes the radial movement of the wind turbine and transfers that energy the piston, which generates electricity.

Lee said the result is a smaller, lighter, cheaper turbine that doesn't require the maintenance that traditional turbines do.

"We have a beautiful machine, and we can compete with cheap Chinese products," Lee said.

A 25-kilowatt turbine — designed for distributed installation rather than utility-scale wind farms — prices out at around $70,000. And, Lee said, it will come with a lifetime warranty.

"Price-wise, no one beats us," Lee said.

Xzeres Corp., a Wilsonville wind turbine company that's also targeting the small-scale wind industry, recently installed a turbine on the Silverton property of Rick Bedard. Bedard said his up-front cost for that turbine was $92,000.

Genesis' first customer is Kathy Waldorf, a doctor and investor who owns a farm near Skyline Drive in Portland.

"I'm totally a believer in wind technology," Waldorf said.

She said she expects the Genesis turbine to provide the power she needs for her home and small horse farm, with the potential for some extra electricity to sell back to the grid.

While Lee said his turbine concept could also be applied to wind farm installations, it's the opportunity to install cost-effective small-scale turbines to provide distributed renewable power that's most interesting to Genesis adviser Michael Baker.

Baker, an engineer and startup adviser known for his work launching Home Dialysis Plus Ltd., has been working with Lee on his turbine development for eight years.

"The compelling part of (the business) for me is the diversity of where it can be implemented," Baker said.

With smart grid advances, the demand for distributed energy generation such as small-scale wind will grow, Baker said.

And as Genesis grows, Lee intends to keep as much of the manufacturing in Oregon as possible.

"The towers, blades and hubs will come from Asia," Lee said. "The value-added parts, like generators and drives will be made in Portland."

Genesis has two full-time employees and some 10 subcontractors, but Lee said if his business unfolds according to his plan, the company would create 20 jobs in the next year.

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