A Halifax company has launched a $500,000 to $800,000 crowdfunding campaign to test a revolutionary form of wind turbine that could improve the economics of wind power.
Lux Wind Turbines is raising money so it can build a test version of its new product, and send it to trials at the Wind Energy Institute of Canada in P.E.I. If the nine-month trials prove successful, the company believes its product will solve many of the problems that now plague the wind power industry — namely economic feasibility.
“We need to bring in a lower-cost alternative because it will really drive the market,” said Lux Win CEO Terry Norman in an interview.
Norman is a veteran of the Nova Scotian wind industry and says the reason traditional wind turbines are so expensive is so much of the machinery is high in the air, difficult to install and maintain. And the contraption has to turn to face the wind.
Designed by Saskatoon-based engineer Glen Lux, the Lux two-megawatt turbine looks more like an eggbeater with six blades that catch the wind and whir around a vertical axis, regardless of which way the wind is blowing. (Such as the design within the logo above.) Norman said the design — which won an award from a division of NASA two years ago — cuts the manufacturing and installation costs by at least 40 per cent, and that means these turbines could generate electricity profitably in any jurisdiction.
Lux Wind is now looking at a few specific niches in which to install the turbines — including tall smoke stacks from decommissioned coal-fired electricity plants. These plants are being phased out across the U.S., and it costs about $5 million to $10 million to take down each smoke stack. Lux Wind is now working with one U.S. partner to use a smoke stack as the vertical axis for one of the turbines. This could be a large market as there are now about 1,000 abandoned smoke stacks in the U.S. and 60 more become available each year.
Lux Wind is also planning for offshore installations, as the design make them easier to install in deep water than existing turbines. And the Lux system could be used to replace existing turbines, many of which are reaching the end of their life span.
Assuming the trials in P.E.I. are successful, Lux Wind plans to develop an assembly facility for the turbines at the former Bowater plant near Liverpool, where the provincial government hopes to establish a cleantech park.
“It would be primarily an assembly plant,” said Norman. “The blades are in sections that would be fitted together so we can put all the parts in one container and ship it anywhere in the world.” Once the container arrives, someone from Nova Scotia would fly to the site and oversee the assembly.
The focus of the company now is the crowdfunding campaign, which is being carried out on the platform of FrontFundr, a British Columbian crowdfunding platform. As part of this campaign, Lux Wind is raising money in Nova Scotia through the Community Economic Development Investment Fund, or Cedif. Nova Scotia investors would qualify for an equity tax credit under the scheme.