After a three-year hiatus to step back to rethink its product and markets, Helios Altas is preparing to introduce a new and improved PowerBall and PowerWheel to the market. Mike Carroll, CEO, and his team have been working hard to unlock the potential for this technology and come up with several clever new designs. Helios, headquartered in Roseville, California is an early-stage CleanTech startup that builds micro hydroelectric generators for distributed power grids. The company’s flagship products, PowerBall and PowerWheel are waterwheels that drive generators to produce clean electricity. They use water flowing in canals, rivers, tides  and the base of dams day and night. No impediment is needed. During high-flow times or when a lot of deris is in the water, the unit lifts itself up to avoid being submerged or damaged. Helios is currently developing a range of PowerBall units from 100w to 4kW and PowerWheel units from 5kW to 40kW. They have a proprietary generator self contained in the water wheel allowing their wheels to generate sufficient energy in low flow areas to make them economical even in smaller units.  This adds up to Helio’s products having a comparative advantage by being 1) easy to install, 2) self-contained, 3) scalable, and 4) compact when compared to other systems. On top of all that Helios’ units generate over 3 x the energy of similarly rated wind and solar generators when the water is flowing 24/7.   They are targeting developing countries, especially rural areas far from the grid.  They see a niche market of $700 million in sales. They are not envisioning much of a market in the US.  Helio has placed its prototypes in California and the Philippines and is constantly collecting data for improvement. Mike envisions a mass deployment of their technology in the developing countries particularly concentrated in South East Asia and India.  They have a number of development agency prospects in the pipeline for situations where wind and solar are not suitable. Their model is to sell the equipment, and manufacture it in low cost the countries near where it will be installed. More information can be found here.


Qidong is a CleanStart Associate who follows new technologies that can connect with his passion for sustainability, education and economic empowerment. Helping CleanStart and clean tech startups in the Sacramento Region, he is looking to help positively impact the world. He recently graduated from UC San Diego and has a B.S. in Managerial Economics. His multicultural background helps companies approach problems from new the region.