08/24/2010 04:02

Four years after founding Leviathan Energy, US oleh Daniel Farb proves his Wind Lotus really works.

The winds are blowing favorably for Leviathan Energy, a four-yearold renewable energy technology company, whose first small wind turbine, the Wind Lotus, connected to the power grid on Monday and began producing electricity in Sde Boker for Midreshet Ben-Gurion and the environmental high school.

National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau (Israel Beiteinu) was on hand to throw the switch.

The Wind Lotus is an early model turbine invented by Leviathan CEO and founder, Dr. Daniel Farb. An oleh from the United States who arrived in 2005, Farb immediately got to work building wind turbines and wave energy generators based on his patented ideas. He founded and began funding Leviathan Energy a year later.

The latest model is the Wind Tulip, which is more aerodynamically and aesthetically designed.

According to the company, its wind turbines are unique because they start working at much lower wind speeds than most other small wind turbines. Instead of starting at winds of three to four meters per second, the Wind Lotus and the Wind Tulip produce electricity at just one to two meters per second.

“It’s been a great five years since I moved here and got involved in the technology. It’s been very stimulating, it’s nice to see what I’ve accomplished with the help of a very dedicated team,” Farb told The Jerusalem Post after Monday’s ceremony.

“We still have a long way to go.

Still a lot of work and challenges.

But there’s a sense of satisfaction that we’re doing something for the country. If we can grow the company into a world leader in wind turbines then we’ve really accomplished a lot for the world,” Farb said.

“Israel is an excellent country for small wind turbines. It’s small and crowded but there are more places with good wind than people realize.

Also energy security-wise, more points of generation is better. And especially with the electric car coming to Israel, there are a lot of points where you can put it to generate electricity,” he added.

The vertical access Wind Lotus was tested for over two years at the Rotem Industrial Park outside Dimona and performed exceedingly well. Today, the Wind Tulip is ready for mass production as well, the company said.

The wind energy market was recently enabled by a new feed-in tariff of NIS 1.65 per kilowatt hour for 20 years. A feed-in tariff is a guaranteed rate the government will buy all of the electricity produced for 20 years. It is a financial mechanism used to encourage renewable energy industries like wind and solar until the costs drop enough for them to become competitively priced with fossil fuels like coal and natural gas.

In other parts of the world, wind energy costs are comparable to fossil fuels. Solar energy is still several years away from “grid parity” – where costs will equal those of fossil fuel electricity production.

There has been some debate about Israel’s wind potential. Those in the industry, like Farb and Afcon Energy’s Eli Ben-Dor, maintain that Israel has a surprisingly large potential in certain areas such as the north and the Arava Valley.

The Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) is more skeptical, seeing only a limited potential for wind and much more for solar energy.

Leviathan contends that its Wind Tulip is ideal for urban settings since it has very low vibrations and makes little noise and therefore can be bolted onto the roofs of houses so as not to use up any additional land. Its small size enables additional turbines to be configured in close proximity to make use of the first turbine’s aerodynamics.

Wind farms in other countries are generally set away from population centers since large wind turbines tend to be noisy. In Denmark, for instance, a world leader in wind energy, some of the farms are even placed offshore on the water.

The Wind Tulip will be available in both 2.0 and 3.5 kilowatt versions for NIS 30,000 and NIS 44,000, respectively. Return on investment would be 20 percent with the right winds. The company said it was looking for additional investors as it moves to mass production.

Leviathan Energy is a member of iConsortium, which aims to be a one-stop shop for security and environmental needs.