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Gamesa joins Ecotècnia to develop virtual wind turbine computer model

Competing Spanish wind turbine suppliers Gamesa Eólica and Ecotècnia have joined forces in leading a EUR 28 million research and development (R&D) initiative, called Windlider, aimed at creating a virtual wind turbine computer model for developing new high-capacity machines of around 5 MW over the next four years. The initiative has landed a EUR 13 million grant from the Spanish government through the so-called Ingenious Initiative 2006-2010 program for boosting high-tech R&D. The partners say Windlider will "keep Spain at the cutting edge of wind technology internationally." It will also "correct" an "imbalance" in the European Commission's Framework Programme VI, 2002-2006, they say, under which the EC's entire EUR 14.3 million wind budget is sunk into the Upwind project (page 27) for development of the next generation of wind turbines. Between them, Denmark, Holland, Germany and Greece won 80% of Upwind funds, while Spain got just EUR 150,000. Both Gamesa and Ecotècnia will develop turbine simulation software as well as a new multi-megawatt machine. Only part of the resulting turbine simulation model will be common to both companies, due to areas of confidentiality. The rest will depend on each company's specific adaptations. "As much as anything else, an invaluable part of the program is the collaboration processes and the lessons to be learned," says Ecotècnia's Pep Pratts. Gamesa will put up EUR 10 million and Ecotècnia EUR 2.1 million. The rest comes from five smaller component and service Windlider participants. A roster of Spanish technology institutes has already lined up to join as likely bidders for the R&D contracts.

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