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Spain

New Spanish turbine launched

Spanish wind developer Energía Hidroeléctrica de Navarra (EHN) has opened a facility to produce its own-design 1.5 MW machine. The $8 million factory at Barasoain, in EHN's home region of Navarra, can produce 250 turbines a year. EHN will produce 43, 1.5 MW units this year, ramping up to full production in 2004. The machines will be used in EHN's own projects -- it has concessions for 1100 MW of development nationwide.

The successful operation of 23 EHN 1.3 MW turbines in Navarra in 2001 and 2002 encouraged the decision to series produce a slightly larger model, says the company. EHN says the 1.5 MW turbine will make the group "more competitive in its overall products and services supplies."

Somewhat less cryptically, EHN has founded a special purpose company, Ingenieria de Turbinas Eólicas SA (ITESA), to head turbine production and sales. It is planning a second factory in Valencia, where it has concessions for 758 MW. At both facilities, the turbine will be turned out in two rotor sizes, 70 metres and 77 metres.

The turbine's variable speed/variable pitch technology is nothing new, admits EHN, but it is fine-tuned to special needs identified from EHN's experience as developer and operator of nearly 2000 turbines in Spain totalling nearly 700 MW. The turbine's main feature lies in its low wind speed performance and durability, says EHN. With a kick-in speed is of 2 m/s -- compared with the 4.5 m/s of most megawatt scale turbines -- EHN claims its turbine to be better suited to the low wind sites still to be developed in Spain, now that most of the high speed sites have already been taken. The turbine reaches nominal production at 8 m/s, compared to the 15 m/s standard of similar rated turbines, and cuts out at 18 m/s, instead of 25 m/s. The machine also produces power at 12,000 V, avoiding the need for step-up transformers.

Some industry commentators have labelled the machine an expensive risk that only a company with public funding can afford. Majority shares in EHN are held by the regional government of Navarra and the region's semi-public bank, Caja Navarra. Since utility Iberdrola divested its 37% share of EHN last year, the Navarran owners have been looking for a new partner.

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