NZ innovation aims to harness watts in the wind

By John Weekes

The Wedge wind turbine design. Photo / Supplied
The Wedge wind turbine design. Photo / Supplied

A Kiwi family hopes soon to be putting the wind up traditional power generators.

The Emsheys, 21-year-old Lori-Lee and her parents Linda and Garry, have featured in US Forbes magazine for their plans for a new wind-turbine prototype that could change the way we harness natural energy.

Lori-Lee, raised in Taranaki but who moved to North America eight years ago, revealed the concept at an entrepreneurs' challenge at New York University last week.

Lori-Lee told the Herald on Sunday the company, Wedge Technologies, was working on a wind-turbine prototype well suited to windy Kiwi conditions. The turbine had many blades instead of the usual three.

The Emsheys hoped their design, which was also more compact than most commercial turbines, would stand up to testing over coming months.

"We hope that one day we can make turbines that can be installed or built into a house's infrastructure to help subsidise electricity consumption," Lori-Lee said. "But more immediately we see the turbines being used by people with farmland, or larger properties, to either generate electricity or pump water."

She said the Wedge operated close to the ground, so had a less-intrusive visual profile than other wind turbines, and unlike conventional turbines, it could generate DC current, so it could drive things such as a water pump or gas compressor.

Lori-Lee said her Canadian-Kiwi dad Garry oversaw most research and development from his home in Medicine Hat, Canada. Forbes said the idea had plenty of doubters, but already the US Army had expressed interest in seeing the design.

Lori-Lee, a journalism student at the NYU Graduate School of Arts and Science, was the first contestant to step up on stage among the entrepreneurs.

"In a stylish red dress and high heels she could easily have been taken for someone with an idea regarding customised haute couture, rather than technology entrepreneur working to develop a groundbreaking invention in wind-generated energy," the magazine said.

- Herald on Sunday

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