Amongst murmurs of scepticism circulating at the first conference of the New Zealand Wind Energy Association (NZWEA) about Vortec Energy's "diffuser augmented" wind turbine prototype, Vortec's Trevor Nash had everyone's full attention. "There's been a lot of excitement -- and a lot of supporters too," he said, adding that the company is confident the Vortec will be a commercial alternative to conventional models. Vortec Energy expects to have solid preliminary data over the next three months by testing power performance of the DAWT turbine, particularly how it is affected by various combinations of turbine and diffuser. Nash says Vortec is not yet concerned with the cost-effectiveness of the machine, though the company is naturally keen to confirm the turbine's profitability. DAWT's unique design was referred to by a number of speakers at the conference. Of particular concern was its landscape dominating "footprint" , with a 20-tonne diffuser, 20-tonne support structure and 14-tonne nacelle. "If you're a designer of the Vortec turbine you're going to have to do a lot of work to make it aesthetically pleasing to the public," said US wind energy consultant Paul Gipe. "Give it a fair hearing before giving it a knock," countered interim NZWEA chairman Alistair Wilson. Nash said he was pleased with the positive comments he heard about the machine during open site tours, particularly regarding its low noise output. The country's television news programmes have covered the machine's introduction, although one spot referred to it as "the world's first prototype wind turbine."
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