The Husum wind energy trade fair and conference exceeded all expectations this year, becoming a huge hub of activity for the wind industry of continental northwest Europe. Visitors thronged in record numbers to the small town of Husum on the North Sea coast to hear the news on the political front, notably what was about to happen to Germany's renewable energy feed-in tariff (REFIT), and to see the very latest in large turbine technology.
"From the word go it was clear that the Husum event was stepping up a couple of gears," says Peter Wellmann from the organiser Wellmann and Klein in Husum. A total of 130 companies exhibited, 38% more than at the previous event in 1997. Seventy would-be exhibitors were turned down for lack of space. Wellmann estimates that some 10,500 visitors with a special wind interest attended the five day event, held September 22-26, together with another 2500 with a more general interest. "We had to commandeer three nearby fields for extra parking -- after we'd checked there were no cows and sheep grazing there," laughs assistant organiser Heike Klein.
The evening prior to the official opening, Vestas Deutschland presented its new V80 2 MW turbine at its main workshop, also based in Husum. It was here that Herman Scheer, a stalwart of the wind lobby and a Social Democrat member of parliament, first lifted the lid on news of a pending amendment to the REFIT law (page 16). Further details emerged during the three day conference running parallel to the exhibition, which attracted about 350 people before the doors were closed to prevent overcrowding.
Opened by Claus Müller, Schleswig-Holstein's energy and finance minister, the conference was titled Windwirtschaft 2000 Plus (Wind industry 2000-Plus). Under the fluttering roof of the conference tent, speakers talked about wind in a liberalised energy market, including new rules on grid access and export opportunities, on the evergreen themes of wind turbine reliability, maintenance, and repair, and discussed the commercial issues of wind plant planning, contracts and marketing. Of special interest this year were the prospects for larger turbines and offshore wind. Visitors enjoyed the extra fillip of being able to view some of the technology destined for use at sea.
Like great sleeping animals, the mighty machines now coming onto the wind power market created brooding dense landmarks in the exhibition hall, as if holding back the sea of smaller stands representing planning companies, banks, institutes, associations, component manufacturers and others, mainly from Germany. The subtly lit Tacke Windenergie 2 MW machine occupied a large stand designed to depict the transition from the onshore wind business (with green carpeting and birdsong) to offshore (with blue carpeting and symbolic waves rising from the floor.) NEG Micon, in more traditional style, displayed its 2 MW machine with visitors attended by staff almost exclusively attired in dark blue suits for a corporate look.
The smaller wind turbine manufacturers joined forces. Fuhrländer, Jacobs Energie, BWU and Husumer Schiffswerft displayed the hub of the new MD70 1.5 MW machine, to be built under licence from Pro and Pro, a subsidiary of wind engineering specialist Aerodyn and wind planning company Regenerative Energien Denker and Wulf.
The Nordex stand on two storeys provided vistas of space for customers to ebb and flow around a bar and a black grand piano. Enercon also slipped into the world of the theatrical, with elegant, exotic human "birds" striding amongst the crowd on tall stilts. Although represented in the exhibition hall with its mottled green two storey stand, Enercon's main attraction was a 31 metre tower sited on the grounds outside the hall, complete with internal spiral staircase leading to a viewing platform, topped by an illustrative rotor unit consisting of items from Enercon's product range. After the trade fair, the platform was being shipped to England to become the second on an E66 1.5 MW turbine to enable the British public to have a closer look at wind technology.
Several companies including AN Windenergie and Nordex used their stands as a venue for press conferences, also attended by the public. Enercon even presented mini seminars in its marquee, where visitors were taught about the company's philosophy and range of products by senior company representatives.
New blade company
Perhaps the most "moving" item at the exhibition, however, was the arrival of a 37.5 m blade, the first to be built by new blade company NOI from Nordhausen near Erfurt. A small roundabout on the access road to the exhibition hall proved a difficult undertaking for the blade transporter and a long tailback of traffic threatened to bring the whole Husum proceedings to a grinding halt. In the end the carrier took the direct route, flattening the roundabout in the process and securing more publicity for NOI in 45 minutes than its small marquee would otherwise have attracted during the whole five day event.
After the enthusiastic response to this year's Husum Wind Fair and Congress, Wellmann and Klein and the Congress committee comprising the German Wind Energy Association, (Bundesverband Windenergie), the Association for the Promotion of Wind Energy Fördergesellschaft Windenergie and the Investitionsbank Schleswig Holstein are considering how to meet the needs of the next event. Under discussion are an expansion of the exhibition space from the current 6,000 square metres, switching from a bi-annual to an annual event and adding simultaneous translation into English and another language at the congress to improve the service for foreign visitors and companies who this year attended from 26 countries.