Today’s Northern Power Systems started in 1974 as North Wind Power Company in Warren, Vermont. In 1978, US Department of Energy awarded North Wind a 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. Northern Power wind turbines have been installed in over 40 countries on all seven continents, with many still operational today.
In 1986, the team 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 the early 1990s, NASA was planning for an extended stay on Mars and began researching energy generation methods including wind power. In 1993, NASA’s Ames Research Center awarded Northern Power Systems a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to construct a wind turbine at the South Pole that could function in the same extreme conditions as exist on Mars. In 1997, NPS installed a 3-kilowatt turbine at the South Pole, and then began developing a 100-kilowatt turbine based on the same technology. The NPS 100 wind turbine technology won an R&D 100 Award from R&D Magazine in 2000 and The American Wind Energy Association Technology Award in 2006.
Since 2008, Northern Power Systems has added technology products including utility scale turbines; FlexPhase® power converter solutions for applications of 50kW to 5MW+ for power generation, energy storage, and drive applications; permanent magnet machines; and power electronics.