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Belgium

Belgium

Belgium back on the wind map

After December's launch of its prototype 400 kW wind turbine, Belgian Turbowinds NV has announced a string of new projects in India, Europe, Africa and the US, which manager Wilfried van Melckebeke hopes will see the rebirth of his country as a serious player on the wind market. Turbowinds rose from the bankruptcy ashes of Belgium's hitherto only manufacturer of utility scale wind turbines, HMZ WindMaster.

Turbowinds' entry into India follows the sale of 20 of its T300-30 series turbines to Indian engineering giant Elecon in 1996. Since then the firm has signed a licencing agreement for the production of 90 of its T400-34 400 kW machine between 1997 and 1999. Type certification of the T400-34 was expected by the end of last month and it has already gained its ISO-9001 Quality Assurance label.

In Europe, Turbowinds says it is talking to a "reputed Spanish company" with an eye towards a partnership which will yield at least 10 MW a year. It is also co-operating with Belgium Biokat and the Public Power Corporation of Greece in a retrofit programme for 34 turbines in Euboia and Crete. The first retrofit was undertaken in November 1996, with the remainder to follow after testing has been completed this spring. Turbowinds has also been "preselected" for two French projects aiming at generating 3.2 MW a year, and has signed a partnership agreement with an unnamed French company.

With its expertise in stand-alone wind-diesel units, the company is also looking to develop Africa as a major market. Last year it was selected to upgrade two wind-diesel installations in Kenya and talks are now underway with the Kenya Power and Lighting Company. Van Melckebeke expects a contract soon for four MW of units a year for Kenya.

Further afield, in the United States another 10 MW a year is forecast from an agreement reached with a California wind farm developer, and the company has also been approached by the Israel Electrical Corporation with a view to collaboration on a new project.

At home, Turbowinds has completed its retrofit of Belgium's sole wind farm of WindMaster turbines on the harbour wall at Zeebrugge and has signed an operating contract with the wind plant's new owners, Belgian utility Interelectra. Under the agreement, Turbowinds has been allowed to install its T400-34 model and will deliver 50% of the energy produced to the utility. The new model was designed and built by the same team of engineers responsible for HMZ WindMaster turbines before the Dutch-owned company collapsed in 1995. Turbowinds became its successor in Belgium and the seven-man team was transferred in October 1995. It is currently working on the design of a T600-46 prototype, schedule for launching on the market this year.

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