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Major export to remote Russia; Shipping this month

A major order of small wind turbines is being shipped this month from the United States to power remote off-grid villages in north European Russia. The turbines will arrive in the Murmansk and Archangelsk areas in January and should be installed starting in the late spring.

What may be the largest order ever of small wind turbines is being shipped this month from the United States to power remote off-grid villages in the north of European Russia. Under a $1.78 million contract, Bergey Windpower Co of Norman, Oklahoma will ship 40, 1.5 kW and 10 kW wind system packages in the second week of December for installation in a pilot programme in remote villages in the Murmansk and Archangelsk areas near the Arctic Circle. The contract is the first using wind technology financially supported under the commodity import programme of the US Agency for International Development (Windpower Monthly, March 1996). The US-AID grant leverages an additional $450,000 for project planning and feasibility from the US Department of Energy.

The turbines, which total 315 kW of installed capacity, will arrive in Russia in January and should be installed starting in the late spring, says Mike Bergey of Bergey Windpower. Commenting on the size of the order, he says the company normally ships 80 to 150 systems of that size yearly.

The United States Export Council for Renewable Energy (US/ECRE) and Bergey first announced the grant, to be issued through Russia's Federal Centre for Small and Unconventional Energy, at the end of September. The wind turbines will replace diesel and gas-powered equipment in remote villages -- which often have only a few hours of power a day -- under the Northern Rural Electrification Programme (NREP). Potential for such installations in Russia is vast. There are as many as 17,000 sites in northern Russia alone, says Bergey, citing Russian estimates. Phase II of the NREP, following this pilot phase but still several years away, would be expanded to 29 other regions of Russia. It also might involve renewable technologies in addition to wind and would use multilateral monies such as assistance from the World Bank leveraged via funds from US-AID.

Bergey certainly hopes it is a trend that will continue. "It's not an aberration," he says of the Russia grant. "We're seeing larger orders -- decentralised electrification with wind hybrids is gaining market acceptance√Č we've reached critical mass." The systems being shipped to Russia this month include the turbines, tilt-up towers, batteries, inverters, controls and wiring. Twenty-five Bergey systems are already operating in the Russian Far East and about 1500 worldwide.

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