Joshua Kaufman, Pika Energy's director of R&D, stands in Pika's facility with a turbine in the background.

Joshua Kaufman, Pika Energy’s director of R&D, holding the company’s turbine technology in his hand. (photo/courtesy Pika Energy)

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $700,000 to Pika Energy, a four-year-old energy startup in Westbrook, to help it improve the performance and manufacturing process for its residential-scale wind turbines. The grant brings the total outside funding the company has received to more than $2 million.

“The new DOE funding is great news because it enables us to make our products even more cost effective and more powerful,” Ben Polito, Pika’s president, wrote to me in an email.

The award comes from the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is the second round of its Competitiveness Improvement Project. Pika received $150,000 in the first round in January 2013.

The $700,000 will allow Pika to upgrade its manufacturing process for components of its T701 home wind turbine, which went on the market earlier this year.

“Today’s small wind turbines need better manufacturing processes and components to make them affordable for a broader market,” Joshua Kaufman, Pika’s director of research and development, said in a statement. “With this opportunity from NREL, Pika can lower costs, increase production capacity, and help bring distributed wind energy into the mainstream of rural America.”

By my calculations, this DOE grant brings the total amount of Pika’s outside funding to $2.4 million. Here’s a roundup of the previous grants and investments Pika Energy has received since it was founded in 2010:

  • In May 2011, the company received $150,000 from the DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research program.
  • In June 2011, it received a $274,291 Development Loan from the Maine Technology Institute.
  • In 2012, it raised $250,000 in angel investment from members of the Maine Angels and the New Hampshire-based eCoast Angels.
  • In October 2012, it won the Northeast Region Semifinals of the 2012 Cleantech Open business plan competition, which came with a check for $20,000.
  • In November 2012, the company received a follow-up Development Loan from MTI in the amount of $218,834.
  • In January 2013, it received a $150,000 grant in the first round of the DOE’s Competitiveness Improvement Project.
  • In April 2013, the company won Gorham Savings Bank’s inaugural LaunchPad business plan competition, which came with a $30,000 award.
  • In May 2013, the Maine Venture Fund invested $150,000 in Pika.
  • This spring the company received a follow-on round of approximately $500,000 from new and existing investors, according to Polito.