Signs that the German wind industry and its insurers are heading for a peace treaty are evident in a joint development announced by the federal wind association, Bundesverband Windenergie (BWE) and Cologne-based insurance company Gothaer. Instead of insisting on "preventative maintenance," a concept which requires replacement of components regardless of their condition, Gothaer now says it is willing to accept "condition monitoring maintenance" to limit the cost of repairs and turbine downtime by catching problems in their first stages. Heavy insurance claims over the past 18 months have caused a deal of friction between the wind industry and its insurers. According to estimates by the German insurance federation, insurance premiums to cover machine failure and downtime in 2002 were EUR 30 million, while claims amounted to EUR 45 million. The new business model has caused a flurry of excited activity among companies that specialise in condition monitoring of wind plant. DMT, a mining technology specialist with an online condition monitoring system named Windsafe, joined forces recently with RWE Solutions, which offers a maintenance tool dubbed Mabi, and the data provider Power-Con to hold a symposium for insurers on conditioning monitoring. And certification company Germanischer Lloyd Windenergie is planning to publish a regulation for certification of condition monitoring systems for wind turbines.
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