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August 23, 2016
Paul Gipe

Ogin Ducted Turbine Employees Speak Out


Former employees of the erstwhile ducted turbine manufacturer Ogin have posted comments about their jobs on a public web site.

Note: These are anonymous posts from presumably former employees whose jobs were terminated for whatever reason. The people behind these posts are not identified nor have their claims been confirmed.

Nevertheless, the posts may offer insight into the working environment at Ogin.

Some of the former employees had worked for the company three years. Four identified themselves as engineers.

One post noted that “it was a group of very sharp people.” Another noted that “employees are from the top schools.”

Ogin and its predecessor, FloDesign, were based in the Boston area, the home of Harvard, MIT, and other elite schools.

A former Ogin mechanical engineer claimed that the company was cutting corners and problems developed as a result. The same engineer noted that 25% of the workforce was shown the door in November of 2015. A “senior structural engineer” posted in mid January 2016 that 50% of the R&D department had been axed.

In January 2016 Ogin installed several of its Diffuser Augmented Wind Turbines near Palm Springs, California.

I received a report in late July that the turbines had been taken down. Subsequently, the removal was confirmed and since then I’ve received photos of the demolition.

Why are these developments important? Because FloDesign, and subsequently Ogin, made outlandish claims about what their then theoretical wind turbine could do. Their claims were not as outlandish as some, but FloDesign and Ogin still fell into the common trap of promising that their unproven design was far superior to existing wind turbines that work reliably worldwide.

Developing renewable energy at scale is as much about public policy as engineering. There are many opponents of renewable energy. They are quick to seize on claims that a new, untested, product will make all existing renewable technologies obsolete. “Why develop renewable energy now, when all we have to do is wait for that promised panacea,” becomes their mantra. The intent of opponents is not to wait, but to deter renewable energy as long as possible. Proponents of unproven wind turbines--out of arrogance or greed--play into the hands of the fossil fuel and nuclear industries. They do the industry harm and weaken the impetuous to make the energy transition happen now—and not later.

I am taking the time to post about Ogin, because I have a dog in this fight. At the height of the PR blitz FloDesign launched in 2008-2009, the company sought me ought to pitch their product, knowing full well that I would be skeptical. Stanley Kowalski III, then FloDesign’s chairman of the board and subsequently a board member of Ogin, made his case and promised that they would thoroughly test their ducted wind turbine and share the results with me. Until there was proof of their claims, Kowalski understood, I would remain skeptical.

I've been waiting for proof of their design. Maybe I have it now.


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