Small Wind Turbines Harnessing Gusts With Solar’s Lease Success

August 9, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Urban Green Energy Inc., a
manufacturer of wind turbines small enough to be placed on
residential rooftoops, received $20 million in backing to
install systems that will power mobile-phone towers in remote
locations.

Urban Green, based in New York, will use the financing from
Tamra-Tacoma Capital Partners to market its small-scale systems
to telecommunication companies that currently use diesel
generators at off-grid sites that lack power lines, said Chief
Executive Officer Nick Blitterswyk.

The trade group GSMA has estimated that mobile-phone
service providers add about 75,000 off-grid towers a year in
developing countries. Urban Green’s systems may supply as much
as 90 percent of the power needed to run such towers,
Blitterswyk said.

“There’s a huge opportunity for telecoms to reduce their
energy costs with renewables,” Blitterswyk said today in an
interview.

“We have a product that requires as little attention as a
solar panel, and that becomes very important when you can only
reach a tower by helicopter or donkey,” he said.

Their turbines range in height from 1.2 meters (3.9 feet)
for a 200-watt model to 9.6 meters (31.5 feet) for a 10 kilowatt
system. A commercial system for mobile-phone towers costs less
than $100,000, Blitterswyk said.

Urban Green installs and maintains the systems. The
telecommunication companies pay little to nothing upfront and
agree to buy the power under long-term contracts. The model is
similar to solar leases offered by companies including SolarCity
Corp. (SCTY)

Solar Leases

“With a leasing structure like SolarCity uses we can reach
a lot more telecoms a lot quicker,” Blitterswyk said. “There’s
clearly a need.”

Urban Green’s products use helix-shaped blades that rotate
around a vertical axis. The design requires less maintenance
than the ubiquitous three-blade turbines favored by most
manufactures, he said. The company supplied 14 turbines to help
power the Lincoln Financial Field, where the Philadelphia Eagles
play.

U.S. consumers and businesses installed 175 megawatts of
wind turbines last year to generate their own electricity and
reduce their dependence on utilities, according to the U.S.
Energy Department. Most of the turbines installed at customer
sites were 100 kilowatts or less.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Christopher Martin in New York at
cmartin11@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at
landberg@bloomberg.net

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