Northern Power Systems, a 40-year old wind turbine company, is finding a new market for its wares in the emerging microgrid and distributed energy industry.
The Vermont-based company recently signed on as an industry partner with microgrid software company Homer Energy, which offers the program to help key clients and collaborators connect with others in the microgrid market. Northern Power Systems sees its small-to-medium wind turbines as ideal for microgrids.
Founded in 1974, the company originally specialized in only small wind turbines. It was acquired by a group of investors in the summer of 2008, which provided more than $100 million in financing that allowed Northern Power Systems to create an advanced permanent magnet direct-drive distributed wind turbine. The company also expanded to utility-scale turbines shortly after that, and continues to grow aggressively in the renewable microgrid market.
Northern Power Systems recently reported a 168 percent increase in revenue for third quarter of 2014 compared with the same period last year, a jump from $5.6 million to $15 million. The company had a product backlog of $47 million as of September 30, a 31 percent increase over the $36 million backlog of September 30, 2013.
Hawaii’s SkyGrid Energy is among the microgrids now using Northern Power Systems turbines. The project provides power for a water pumping system used by off-grid farmers in North Kohala, Hawaii. The microgrid gets its primary power from the Northern Power NPS 100 wind turbine, which serves as an alternative to polluting diesel generation.
In addition to the wind turbine, SkyGrid Energy includes a battery bank and inverter which form the microgrid. The system can pump more than 30 million gallons of water annually and is being used to irrigate 400 acres of agricultural land and support 14 participating farms and agricultural businesses. It was partially funded by the Department of Energy through the Hawaii Renewable Energy Development Venture.
The developer of SkyGrid Energy, Gen-X Energy Development, plans to replicate and deploy this microgrid model throughout Hawaii and globally.
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