Wind Harvest International has its roots in California, led by aeronautical engineer Robert Thomas, the Director of Wind Energy for California in the early days of wind farming. The company has branched out to Europe and Australia, bringing in a new generation of talented, experienced engineers and project managers who build on decades of field experience and proto-typing. The values of integrity, sustainability, and respect for the power and wisdom of nature have always been the central trunk of the organization. WHI is known for building alliances and solid, long-term relationships around the world.
Wind Harvest International’s mission is to offer cost-effective and durable vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs), develop new markets for wind energy, and integrate VAWTs into wind farms in order to optimize land use and energy production.
- Certify and sell WHI Harvester VAWTs globally.
- License our technology and patents, so that by 2030, 100,000 MWs of VAWTs are producing renewable energy around the world while significantly helping in the effort to fight climate change.
- Research and determine how to place VAWTs in different topographies, so that the output of surrounding HAWTs can be safely maximized by the integration of VAWTs into the understories of new and existing wind farms without harming wildlife.
Three people of imagination and foresight founded Wind Harvest Company. In 1971, Bob Thomas, aeronautical engineer and inventor, Sam Francis, internationally renowned artist, and George Wagner, attorney and environmental activist, met in a seminar given by Dr. James Kirsch, an analyst who studied with Dr. Carl Jung. They shared a common respect for the way innovation comes into the world, by a vision, by hard work and by tenacity.
Around the time of their first meeting, Thomas had a vivid dream in which he was dangling over the precipice of a sandstone cliff, holding on by his fingers. Before him was a mysterious repeated star pattern carved into the earth. Thomas shared this dream image with Dr. Kirsch and his friends Francis and Wagner. Dr. Kirsch responded, “This dream needs to be acted upon.”
With that encouragement, Thomas began to experiment with various designs of a small vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT) derived from his dream image. After some discussion and initial proof that “stators” on the points of a star could increase the wind speeds reaching the VAWT blades, Dr. Kirsch, Francis and Wagner agreed to make a financial investment to form the Wind Harvest Company (1976), whose purpose was to allow Thomas to pursue the work of designing and field testing the “Windstar” turbines.
Varying the design features and creating different prototype turbines for field testing advanced the effort. In 1980, Thomas stopped working on the Wind Harvest VAWTs when he was asked by then-Governor Jerry Brown to head up the California Energy Commission's (CEC) wind energy program.
Thomas’s work at the CEC is highly regarded by historians of those decades—he shaped the new policies and the relationships that brought in the players, resources, and financial support for the burgeoning young wind industry. Working internationally with Danish turbine manufacturers and others, he acquired a respect for the utility of large HAWTs. Yet, he retained his belief that huge opportunities would be lost by not pursuing R&D on VAWTs.
New rounds of prototyping and research began again in 1983 after Thomas returned to work full time with Wind Harvest. Unfortunately, President Reagan and the new Republican governor of California eliminated support for wind and renewable energy, so the company had no clear opportunities to bring its new VAWTs into commercial production and sales. Nevertheless, Wagner and Francis were able to bring in more investors to fund the new iterations of the company’s Windstar VAWTs, which Thomas created with the help of his son Dean.
At the end of 2005, Kevin Wolf began to work full time for WHC after having acted as a consultant during the previous five years. The first objective was to create Wind Harvest International, a new entity. This was completed in the middle of 2006 with support from more than 90 percent of WHC's shareholders. The next years saw Thomas work on designing a much larger version of the Windstar VAWT. Meanwhile, Wolf and Wagner raised more capital to embark on the first modeling of the coupled vortex effect, which would lay the groundwork for the modern H-type design found in the WHI Harvester series of VAWTs.
WHI's Series A Round of investment was closed in 2012. That capital was used in testing the Windstar 636G-3 in Finland to confirm some of the results of the computer modeling. New European engineers were brought on board, who then built on the work of Thomas and the latest computer modeling results to design and build the Harvester v1.0 prototype and test it at the Nordic Folkecenter in Denmark. At that time, Cornelius (Con) Fitzgerald, now CEO, also joined the company and brought his business skills to help.
In winter of 2018, WHI is working to raise capital to fully certify and commercialize the Harvester VAWT that will open up the “understory” wind farm market. It is seeking projects sites for sales and installations in 2019. It is open to licensing opportunities. It is seeking grant opportunities. It is continuing in the long Wind Harvest history of steadily moving forward.
We now dream of immense numbers of arrays of whirling VAWT “stars” using the synergy of coupled vortices and the earth-wind boundary layer to help us climb back up the precipice, on the edge of which we are collectively hanging, and create a better future for all life on planet Earth.