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Startup Re-engineers the Humble Turbine in Pursuit of Distributed Wind Generation
Posted on The Deal.com February 15, 2008
The windmills made by Marquiss Wind Power barely resemble those graceful towering wind turbines that you can see from the highway in some of the country's wide open spaces, like the plains of Texas and California's Altamont pass.
That's because the equipment Marquiss makes is designed to generate wind power in crowded urban areas, which today remains an untapped market for the wind power industry.
City dwellers in Chicago or Manhattan have long understood the power of urban wind, which seems to intensify as it is chanelled between skyscrapers. Marquiss, which last month raised $1.3 million in funding from Velocity Venture Capital and Strategis Early Ventures, wants to harness that wind with a new product it calls the "ducted turbine," which is built with flaps enabling it to capture more wind from different directions. Since wind speed typically accelerates as it moves up the side of a building and over the top, Marquiss' turbines are designed to sit on building rooftops.
"I guess what intrigued us about this company is that there seemed to be a paradigm shift from large wind farms," says Velocity general partner Jack Crawford Jr.
Although wind farms are a fast-growing source of power -- U.S. wind capacity grew 45% last year alone -- there are some problems with wind farms located in windy, but remote, parts of the country, since it can be costly to transmit that power to urban centers.
Marquiss is promoting a concept of "distributed wind generation" in which a collection of smaller turbines are placed throughout a city. The company is particularly interested in targeting owner-operated buildings, such as hospitals, casinos, data centers and supermarkets, which have 24-hour power requirements. It says its ducted wind turbines will provide a return on investment in two to seven years. - Andrea Orr