Northern Power's marketing and communications manager, Eve Frankel, says that its direct-drive 2.2MW prototype should be ready for testing as early as the end of the summer. The company hopes to have a pilot series ready for commercialisation next year.
The completed prototype will be shipped to Colorado for analysis at the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, then moved to Missaukee County, Michigan, and installed as part of Heritage Sustainable Energy's 20MW Stoney Corners expansion project that will also include nine 2MW Repower machines.
Last year, to support development of its 2.2MW machine, Northern Power opened an engineering office in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The company also maintains a European outpost in Zurich, Switzerland. It has grown to 175 employees, from about 80 last year.
The 2.2MW prototype was manufactured by Merrill Technologies Group (MTG), which received a $22 million tax credit through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act towards the $73 million it needed to produce the prototype. The turbine uses a permanent-magnet generator and, as a direct-drive unit, it has no gearbox.
Northern Power is currently negotiating with US manufacturers, including MTG, to secure a full-scale nacelle production facility.