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United States

First VET award to new design

Zond Systems Inc has been awarded the first grant under the Value Engineered Turbine programme (VET), administered by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The Tehachapi wind company was awarded $1 million to work on its 500 kW turbine, the Z-40, over the next 18 months. The contract was officially signed February 1, says Walt Musial of NREL.

Zond's turbine is an upwind, 40 metre rotor diameter machine with an integrated gear-box and drive-train, full-span pitch control and NREL airfoils. Its engineering is built on the company's experience with operating Vestas turbines from Denmark. Development of the Z-40 is already well under way -- it will be field tested this spring -- and the proportion of the cost shared by Zond is more than 50%, says Musial. "It's not NREL's turbine, it's Zond's," he comments. The turbine will be unveiled at the American Wind Energy Association's Windpower '94 conference in Minneapolis next month.

Two other awards are expected to be made under VET, one probably in April and the other in early summer, perhaps June. A total of $3 million has been ear-marked for the programme, announced September 1992 (Windpower Monthly, October 1992). VET was established to use the extensive experience of field engineers to re-engineer existing turbines and broaden their US and international application. It is meant to lead to the rapid commercialisation of American-made, utility-grade turbines similar to those now in use in the US, but mainly supplied by foreign companies.

Those applying for grants had to have operational experience of at least 50 MW of installed wind capacity over the last five years. They must now operate at least 20 of the turbines they hope to re-engineer. The turbine to be re-engineered must be at least 50 kW in size and must have been widely used in a variety of environments. The costs of VET are shared by private industry and the government. Companies, such as Zond, are expected to provide at least 50% of the investment needed for their proposal. They are encouraged to form partnerships or groups for this project.

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