The original Northern Power Systems started in 1974 as North Wind Power Company in Warren, Vermont. Its founders hitchhiked to Colorado, Minnesota, and North Dakota to buy secondhand Jacobs wind plants. They trucked the wind turbines to Vermont where they reconditioned them for resale as the North Wind “Eagle.”
In 1978, North Wind was awarded a U.S. Department of Energy contract to develop a high-reliability 2 kW wind turbine for the growing telecommunications market. As a result of that work, North Wind developed its HR2 wind turbine, a three-bladed, horizontal axis up wind rotor configuration utilizing a slow-speed, direct-drive 2.2 kW alternator. This small wind turbine soon gained international market acceptance as one of the most rugged, high-reliability wind turbines available. Over 600 HR2 and its successor HR3 wind turbines were sold over approximately 20 years of production. These wind turbines have been installed in over 40 countries on all seven continents, with many still operational today.
In 1986, North Wind, renamed Northern Power Systems, continued its DOE-sponsored research and development work, but also began to design, fabricate, and install high-reliability hybrid power systems for remote applications using gas- and diesel-fired reciprocating engine generators, photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, and battery banks for energy storage.
In 1999, this team began development of a 100 kW wind turbine under a series of cost-share contracts with the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This turbine was specifically designed to function in the harsh winters of Alaska and was installed in remote villages with unreliable or expensive access to electricity. As part of another U.S. Department of Energy contract, this group designed an advanced platform utilizing a permanent magnet direct drive generator. A 1.5 MW generator was constructed and tested at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, facility in Boulder, Colorado and proved the feasibility of such design. Combining this generator technology with the then-existing 100 kW wind turbine design, the original Northern Power Systems introduced a new 100 kW permanent magnet direct-drive wind turbine.
In the summer of 2008, the Vermont-based company was acquired by a group of investors who provided over $100 million in financing to Northern Power Systems between 2008 and 2013. During that period, Northern Power Systems introduced an advanced technology permanent magnet direct-drive distributed wind turbine, and has since sold over 400 of these 60 kW and 100 kW units. Starting in 2009, the company also invested in the development of a utility scale wind turbine, and completed a certified design for a 2.3 MW turbine with a 93-meter rotor. Two prototypes of this turbine are installed and operating at a Michigan wind farm, and this utility scale platform has been licensed to partners in Brazil and China.
Today Northern Power Systems continues plans for aggressive growth with enhancements to its distributed wind turbine platform, licensing of its utility scale platform, development of new products, and provision of engineering and development services to the power industry.