Turbine company runs out of puff

By Melanie Carroll

Wind turbine company Vortec Energy is being wound up because its project is uneconomic, despite having raised $23 million in the past five years.

Vortec, launched in 1994, told shareholders last week its revolutionary new technology was not economically viable.

It received shareholder approval to wind up the company’s affairs.

Vortec made bold claims about the turbines it was developing, and had plans to list in Europe and on the US Nasdaq exchange, as well as entering joint ventures around the world.

Board appointed consultant Jens Mueller, originally taken on as an outside reviewer on June 6, and then to wind down the company after the shareholders’ meeting, said staff and Inland Revenue had been paid.

The company owed about $650,000 to creditors and would have an estimated $75,000 left over.

Shareholders could be left with nothing.

“If that is not successful there will be a liquidator appointed by the court and it goes into a standard liquidation,” said Mr Mueller.

“So far we’ve been very encouraged by the creditor response we’ve been able to settle with a large percentage of the creditors and it’s only been a couple of days.”

The potential to profit from turbines had declined because of a drop in the cost of wind energy worldwide, he said.

If Vortec settles with creditors, it aims to sell its intellectual property to a new company and sell shares in it at 0.1c each to existing Vortec shareholders on a pro rata basis.

A rights issue would follow.

The board hopes to put a detailed proposal to shareholders by the end of the week.

Christchurch engineer Geoff Henderson, whose wind turbine company Windflow Technology launched a share offering this year, said he had been asked to join the Vortec venture but decided to proceed with his own project.

There was published evidence that the Vortec turbines had not achieved the necessary standards, he said.

“I’ve had serious reservations about that whole project for many years they offered me the job to work on it and I turned it down.”

Vortec founder Robin Johannink is involved with another troubled company, US based Ilion Technology, the parent of Auckland battery developer Pacific Lithium, which Mr Johannink also established.

The Independent Business Weekly reported that Ilion, caught up in the recent tech wreck and unable to raise $US120 million ($290 million) in capital, had been talking about a Nasdaq listing for more than two years, and had delayed its plans several times.

NZPA (New Zealand Press Association)