Wind energy company eyes global market, fast growth
Synergy was at play when David vanOver,
with a background in export finance,met
Ralph Belden, the inventor of a wind-power
product suitable for use in developing countries.
The result is Synergy Power Corp., headquartered
in Verdi but quickly heading worldwide
with sales of Synergy Wind Turbines.
VanOver, the company’s chief executive
officer, Belden, its chief technology officer, and
Greg Jones, its executive vice president, head
up the current team of 10 employees, plus
another 10 outside sales reps.
They rattle around in 6,000 square feet of
office space adjacent to 30,000 square feet of
manufacturing space just off Interstate 80.
But within the next three years, says
VanOver, the company expects to hire up to
350 in manufacturing, sales, technology and
Synergy Inc. last year acquired rights to
the technology invented by Belden from a previous
company based in Hong Kong.
VanOver met Belden two years ago.
“I quickly realized Ralph’s product has a
lot of international export potential,” he says.
“Eighty percent of our market will be international.
Our technology is adaptable to every
country in the world. Especially those with
remote locations, poor energy grids or high
reliance on expensive diesel generation.”
While the company expects to
begin large-scale manufacturing in
Reno,VanOver says he anticipates
opening 10 factories worldwide
within the next decade to get manufacturing
closer to customers,
reducing shipping costs in the
Belden says his design can harvest
winds closer to the ground than
That’s important because residents
in developing markets generally
lack access to tall cranes and
heavy machinery.Most windmills,
he says,must be 80 to 100 feet high
to get above the normal turbulence
found at ground level.
After decades traveling the
world and installing his technology
in the poorest of countries, Belden’s
role now is to teach the sales people
and installers how to explain and
install the technology.
Synergy has installed product on the East
Coast and in Colorado. It plans a Verdi installation
“By year-end we will have four installed in
southern Nevada and Washoe County businesses,”
says VanOver. Sales efforts began last
year, resulting in up to 100 installs planned
The windmills will produce 300 kilowatt
hours a day enough to power 15 to 20
The company is in negotiations with
Kirkwood Ski Resort to install 20 wind turbines
next year to generate 6,000 kilowatt
hours of electricity per day, enough to power
20 percent of the needs of Kirkwood
“Ours is the only model that could survive
the ferocious winds up there,”VanOver adds.
“They blow 200 mph over the peaks, and over
100 mph where they’ll be installed.”
Another target: Mining companies, particularly
in developing countries.
“They can’t rely on the grid in those countries,
so they generate power with diesel,
VanOver says.”We’re in negotiations with
many of the largest mining companies in the
world today and their interest is incredibly
Synergy Corp. offers financing up to 100
percent of the purchase price, working with a
trade bank in Hong Kong.
Building big wind farms doesn’t interest
vanOver. Instead, he envisions smaller units
that plug directly into a power line and don’t
require expensive transmission lines.
The company is working to develop a new
product: An energy-storage device to work in
tandem with generators.
“We’re in delicate negotiations right now,”
says VanOver.”The turbine combined with the
storage device can provide reliable energy
when the wind is not blowing.”
Synergy predicts product release in the
next six months. It’s also set up a company to
take 20-year investment in specific wind
Meanwhile, the company casts an eye to
long-term viability, dealing with issues such
as a supply of skilled labor.
“EDAWN has been helpful in making
introductions to local entities: UNR, DRI,
TMCC,” says vanOver.He’s working with Ted
Batchman, director of The Renewable Energy
Center at Redfield Campus, to create training
The company is boosting those efforts
through creation of a non-profit arm to handle
research and provide training for skilled
“Wind energy is the fastest-growing
industry in the world right now,”VanOver
says. “But lack of skilled technical installation
labor is holding it back.”
“The thing that I like most about entrepreneurship is I can work toward something that I’m passionate about and be at the forefront of the change that I want to see happen,” said Priyanka Senthil, a senior at Davidson Academy in Reno and co-founder of startup company AUesome.