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Megawatt prototype ready

Austrian turbine manufacturer Windtec expects to have the prototype of its 1.5 MW machine in operation at a site near Vienna in August. The original date was set for mid June, but a general strike in Denmark delayed delivery of blades from LM Glasfiber. The prototype has a rotor diameter of 67 metres, but once series production starts at the beginning of next year the size will increase to 70 metres, says Gerald Hehenberger of Windtec, based in Kärnten. The prototype is being installed at Zurndorf, the location of Austria's largest wind station, where six 500 kW Enercon E40 units went into operation in December. It will be operated by Austria's largest utility, Verbund. This utility was a shareholder in Windtec but sold its stake to Hehenberger, Windtec's founder, at the end of 1997. "Verbund was not interested in becoming involved in wind projects abroad and the research was complete so Verbund had no reason to stay involved," explains Hehenberger. Windtec is also developing a 600 kW machine. The prototype, owned by the utilities Draukraft and Wienstrom, was installed near Vienna at the beginning of last year. Due to noise problems the machine was dismantled. "We have sorted out the problem and the machine will be installed again shortly," says Hehenberger. Meanwhile, Windtec now has a German subsidiary, Windtec Deutschland, based in Vlotho in North Rhine Westfalia. Windtec owns 51% of the new company, with 49% owned by Ralf Grandt, the managing director. "The framework for wind activities in Austria is not positive," says Hehenberger. "Payment for renewables generated power is unsatisfactory and there will be no wind energy boom in the foreseeable future, so the outlook is more promising in Germany."

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