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Wind energy company eyes global market, fast growth

Pat Patera

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

customer service.

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

process.

Belden says his design can harvest

winds closer to the ground than

competitor’s products.

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

this fall.

“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

next year.

The windmills will produce 300 kilowatt

hours a day enough to power 15 to 20

homes.

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

Mountain Utilities.

“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

high.”

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

farms.

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

programs.

The company is boosting those efforts

through creation of a non-profit arm to handle

research and provide training for skilled

technicians.

“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.”


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