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GREATER VARIETY OF TURBINES BOUND FOR BRITAIN

A greater diversity of machines looks certain to appear in the British landscape over the next few years, with new wind turbine manufacturers from Europe and the United States likely to gain a foothold. Several established suppliers appear confident, too. Most of the major developers expecting to be awarded contracts under NFFO-3 have yet to finalise deals with turbine manufactures.

The first few weeks of 1995 have been a busy time for wind turbine manufacturers hoping to cash in on the rash of contracts awarded under Britain's third round of NFFO subsidies. A greater diversity of machines looks certain to appear in the British landscape over the next few years, with new players from Denmark, Germany, Holland and the United States likely to gain a foothold. Several established suppliers appear confident, too, including Bonus, Vestas and Nordtank of Denmark and Dutch-Belgian company WindMaster.

In mid January, however, it was too early to gain a clear picture of winners and losers. Most of the major developers have yet to complete deals with turbine manufacturers and several say the process to last for several weeks. An exception is Kenetech of California, which is involved in a joint development with regional electricity company, MANWEB, to install its 33 M-VS machines at three sites in Wales for a possible total 87 MW installed capacity. Planning permission for one of these sites, for 49 turbines, has already been granted and site work will start in the summer.

Danish manufacturer Micon looks assured of at least one demonstration wind farm if either of its projects with power purchase contracts get planning consent. The company's UK agent, Dorset based Farm Power, helped Micon to win a contract under the Scottish Renewables Order (SRO) for 30 of its 400 kW turbines at West Garty, north-east Scotland. It also has a NFFO contract for nine 400 kW machines at Parc-Cynog, south Wales.

Another newcomer to Britain, Enercon of Germany, is to supply at least one turbine to Western Windpower's 500 kW site at Stroud in Gloucestershire. And a second German company, Tacke Windtechnik of Salzbergen, is optimistic about is chances, although the company's Erik Trast comments: "As far as we know, not a single NFFO contract has yet been signed." He adds: "The developers are now in the phase of coming back to turbine manufacturers for firm quotes and they are certainly getting tough on prices." Tacke hopes to be supplying at least 20, 600 kW machines under this round of NFFO orders. It is in discussion with Trigen, made up of British Ecogen, American developer SeaWest and Tomen of Japan, which won two projects in Scotland. All Tacke's other possibilities are in Wales where it is at the negotiating table with National Wind Power and a few other smaller developers.

In the small project category, Lagerwey from Holland hopes to be making its debut on the UK market if planning permission is forthcoming for its proposal for six turbines in Yorkshire.

Like Micon, British turbine manufacturer Wind Energy Group has chosen to apply for its own NFFO-3 contracts. Subject to planning permission, it hopes to install its WEG 400 machines at Trysglwyn on Anglesey and six at Cemmaes, close to 24 of its MS-3 turbines on National Wind Power's existing site. Like most other wind turbine companies, it is cautious about prospects for further business. "We are still in discussion with our potential customers," is all WEG's David Lievesley will say at this stage.

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