How Hydrovolts’ $250k Development Deal Could Turn into a $20M Contract and Global Market

9/13/10

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Canadian firm with a different technology that is both more expensive and less adaptable to customers,” he says. “DLZ shopped the entire world for a turbine to fit their needs, and they found us.”

HydroVolts estimates that some 80,000 turbines (which would cost an estimated $1.6 billion) could be used in the western United States. Rural communities in developing countries are also a good market for Hydrovolts because the turbines are inexpensive, can be easily fit into smaller existing canals, and can provide power to populations who currently don’t have adequate access.

“Several of our angels invested in us because they know our technology will improve the lives of millions of poor people,” Hamner says. “Our business model enables us to get to large scale production in profitable Western markets, this drives down the turbine cost, and makes it more affordable for expansion to developing countries and sales to their governments.”

India alone has more than 50,000 man-made canals that could be potential sites for the turbines, according to Hamner, who says Hydrovolts is in talks with two other Indian hydropower companies that are also interested in high volume orders.

“The DLZ investment now brings new focus to large canals in India,” Hamner says. “This actually creates a high-volume government sales market for Hydrovolts because governments are working hard around the world to provide electricity to rural communities.”

The two-year-old Hydrovolts was spun out of Puget Sound Tidal Power, Hamner’s consulting firm founded in 2006. To date, the company has a number of accomplishments under its belt, including being awarded a $50,000 grant from the Zino Green Fund, earning the first slot at the McKinstry Innovation Center cleantech incubator, and winning the National Sustainability Award at the Cleantech Open last year (the company is one of 16 semifinalists this year as well).

Back in October, Hydrovolts inked a development agreement with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, which plans to use its technology to power batteries on remote sensors deep in the ocean, and just last month they signed an agreement with Raytheon to help it develop new technology.

The 4-person company (that also has a dozen of what Hamner calls “intimate advisors” on board) will be more than busy preparing DLZ’s turbine over the next several months—”In fact, we will be obsessed,” he says. He estimates that it will be built and ready for demonstration by February. Other turbines like it—with output ranging from 20 watts to 25 kW—will be available for sale in mid-2011.

Hamner says the Chilla Canal is “just the tip of the iceberg” for Hydrovolts. The fact that one canal alone can support up to 400 floating turbines, he says, demonstrates the company’s “enormous potential market,” he says. “Our turbines can generate reliable, clean energy from water currents in tens of thousands more canals, channels and spillways around the world.”

Thea Chard is a correspondent for Xconomy Seattle. You can e-mail her at theachard@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/theachard. Follow @

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