BCBusiness Innovators 2012, Endurance Wind Power Inc. | BCBusiness

BCBusiness Innovators 2012, Endurance Wind Power Inc. | BCBusiness
Back: 2012 BCBusiness Guide to Innovation

Congratulations to Endurance Wind Power Inc., #12 in 2012's Most Innovative Companies in B.C.

“Wind is hot,” our Innovators panellist Brent Holliday notes. Nevertheless, a field of gigantic whirring turbines can be a tough sell. In this market Endurance Wind Power Inc., a Surrey-based manufacturer of wind turbines, has a distinct advantage: it has developed what CEO Glenn Johnson believes are the quietest and most efficient small wind turbines on the planet.

While the typical Canadian wind farm might comprise dozens of turbines, each generating about 1.5 megawatts and plugged into the public grid, Endurance specializes in smaller turbines generating between five and 50 kilowatts and serving specific locations or communities.

How can the most productive turbines also be the quietest? Johnson explains that the “Endurance magic” hinges on the design of the blades, which are larger, relative to the size of the turbine, than those of typical turbines. These giant blades, and the software that controls them, increase efficiency so that they can spin 25 to 50 per cent slower than the average turbine and still create more relative energy than their competitors. If that isn’t enough to quell wind-power critics, this slow cycle also makes for an unbelievably quiet operation.

Endurance’s turbines power hundreds of agricultural properties, industrial plants, hospitals, schools and private properties. In cases where they generate more energy than the owner needs, public utilities can compensate owners for any power they feed back into the grid – an attractive perk for customers who shell out an average of $350,000 for a turbine. Johnson claims that customers typically recoup their investment in seven to 10 years, with some users seeing that return in as little as three. As Holliday notes, “even if the [compensation] is reduced or disappears, this particular turbine is so much more efficient that in small wind it’s got a big advantage.”

Johnson and his team have developed a partnership with the Tsleil-Waututh Nation (TWN) of Greater Vancouver, which invested $2 million in Endurance Wind Power and plans to introduce TWN Wind Power Inc. as a distributor for the company’s wind turbines. “We are striving to help Canada’s First Nations reduce their dependence on non-renewable sources of power while preserving the environment we depend on,” says TWN chief Justin George. He believes the agreement will help lower energy costs in First Nations communities across Canada, enabling those communities to invest the savings in ongoing economic development.

Named on the Ready to Rocket Cleantech List for 2011, Endurance is on track to gross more than $60 million in revenue this year, says Johnson. Some of the company’s strongest supporters are the staff members themselves; almost half of the 80-person team has invested in the organization, buying up just under half of the company.

Spurred on by his success in North America and the U.K., Johnson is expanding operations across Europe and Latin America this year, before tapping into Australia and Asia next year. He notes that this rapid expansion is just the beginning since, “from a revenue standpoint we are probably already the largest individual company in the industry in this size class, yet we haven’t reached anywhere near our full potential.”