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Texas technology partnership ends

Just six months after winning a $1.58 million US government contract, the partnership between Cannon Power Corporation and wind turbine manufacturer Wind Eagle has abruptly ended. Cannon, a wind plant developer based in California, announced that as of March 16 its joint venture with Wind Eagle Corporation of Texas to develop an innovative lightweight tall-tower 34 kW wind turbine had been terminated after two and a half years. The turbine would have been based on a radical design developed in the 1980s by the Carter family of Texas.

"Cannon and Jay Carter Sr simply had different views on how the technology should be commercialised and we were unable to resolve these issues," says Cannon chairman Gerry Monkhouse. "Cannon just felt it was time to work in a different direction." Cannon had licensed the Wind Eagle technology in August 1995 and had developed a number of prototypes and various improvements to the technology.

It is unclear where this leaves the $1.58 million in small turbine funding awarded by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The contract was the largest of four granted by NREL to aid the development of small wind turbines for remote or rural areas. Other winners were World Power Technologies Inc of Duluth, Minnesota, Windlite Co, a new company co-founded by long-time wind consultant Bob Lynette, and Bergey Windpower Co. of Norman, Oklahoma (Windpower Monthly, December 1997).

Wind Eagle and Cannon had been developing an updated version of the trademark Carter turbine, a two-bladed, down wind fixed speed machine on a 50-metre tower. The Carter machine, including this updated version, is known for low installation and maintenance costs -- especially vital at rural or remote sites -- because of its tilt-up tower and light weight.

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