Patent granted for wind turbine (3/4/10)

Allen Brook School to have first model

March 4, 2010

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

The design of a wind turbine to be installed at Allen Brook School this spring received a federal patent last week. The patent is the first one earned for a wind turbine by Williston-based AllEarth Renewables Inc.

David Blittersdorf, the company’s CEO, president and founder, said he’s excited the new turbine earned the exclusive copyright. For five years, AllEarth Renewables worked on the wind turbine prototype, which is designed for residential and small commercial use. The Allen Brook School’s turbine, called the Earth Turbine 2500, will be the first of many installed across the country, he said.

“They’ll actually have the first production model,” Blittersdorf said.

The Earth Turbine 2500 directly connects to the power grid to generate electricity. Mounted on a 112-foot tower, the turbine is best used in windy locations, such as many spots in the Champlain Valley, Blittersdorf said.

Now that the Earth Turbine 2500 received its patent, the company will begin constructing the electricity generators for small homes. Blittersdorf said there’s already been interest from windy locations across the United States, including high desert areas and parts of Texas.

Blittersdorf said he hatched the idea of a small turbine for home use in the 1980s, when starting NRG Systems Inc. in Hinesburg. When he created NRG’s sister company, Earth Turbines, in 2005, the wind turbine became a main focus. He credits the hard work of the company’s engineers and builders in creating the turbine.

Earth Turbines changed its name to AllEarth Renewables in January after the success of the company’s AllSun Tracker. The device is a dual axis solar panel that tracks the sun’s course through the sky, maximizing the tracker’s electrical generation potential.

Blittersdorf said the AllSun Tracker is getting national recognition, but it will take some work for the Earth Turbine 2500 to break into the renewable energy market. There are many government and private grants available for homeowners looking to install solar panels, but few for wind energy, he said.

“Solar initiatives are taking the market away from small wind, but hopefully that will even out in the future,” he added.

As for Allen Brook, Blittersdorf said the school lucked out in getting renewable energy grants to pay for much of the $23,000 cost of the project. With the first commercial turbine being installed in Williston, Blittersdorf said the company will have an opportunity to monitor the device differently than a test project.

“We’re keeping this first one close before we go out across the U.S.,” he said.

Allen Brook Principal John Terko previously said he believes the turbine will power an average of four classrooms per month. Blittersdorf said he expects installation to occur at the end of April or the beginning of May.