Turbine export a first for young firm

MICHAEL BERRY
Last updated 05:00 18/10/2012

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Windflow Technology's first exported wind turbine is packed in containers for shipment, but before it is assembled on Scotland's Orkney Islands, the company will go to the market for another capital raising to stay afloat.

The nacelle (body) of the 99th 500-kilowatt turbine built by the Christchurch-based company was packed in a shipping container and was due for export today.

Two sets of Auckland-made blades for the turbine have already started their journey to the other side of the globe and will arrive along with the nacelle in December. The tower is being made in Germany and will arrive in January.

The turbine has been named "Barrie" in honour of co-founder and former chairman, the late Barrie Leay, who died in February. The Westray project is a solitary wind turbine on leased farmland on the windswept island of Westray, one of theOrkney Islands.

There are two other turbines projects that both have planning permission and either an offer to link with the country's electrical grid or an offer due.

Meanwhile, the company is putting together a capital raising offer to inject some badly needed cash.

Windflow had $6.38 million of assets funded by 7 per cent equity at the year ended June 2012, according to the annual report.

Ordinary share capital invested in the company over its 12-year life is $33.23m, now whittled down to $474,000.

The company has not yet made a profit.

Windflow chief executive Geoff Henderson would not say how much the company needed to raise.

The capital raising documents would be out in December, he said.

In its annual report released last month, Windflow said it would need $1.5 million of new funding to see it through to the end of June next year and needed more money or commitments to trade past December this year.

Henderson said it had been a difficult few years for most businesses and the company still believed it had the technology and the product to become profitable.

"We're a technological success, but we're yet to achieve commercial success."

At the sendoff for the Westray turbine in Christchurch yesterday, Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley said it was great that Windflow had made the step into exporting.

Renewables were growing globally and New Zealand was ahead of the curve with 75 per cent of the national power grid supplied by hydro, geothermal and wind energy. The country was lucky to have so many different energy options and the technology to back it up, he said.

The Westray turbine project is being run by a British joint venture, majority-owned by Windflow, and will net the venture about £350,000 (NZ$690,585) a year, Henderson said.

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He expected more British orders from April, with increased interest from Orkney farmers once they saw the Westray project running.

But that was dependent on a successful capital raising.

"We spelt out all of the risks in the annual report," he said.

"It's tough. We just need to get some runs on the board."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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