Troubled Dutch veteran retrenches -- Rights to turbines sold

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In a major restructuring of the Dutch wind turbine industry, Lagerwey the Windmaster has decided to divest intellectual property rights for both the top and bottom of its product range. In future, it will concentrate exclusively on its LW 52, 750 kW model, says the company's Hans Duivenvoorden.

"As is well known, Lagerwey has been experiencing financial difficulties lately and as a result we have had to reduce our workforce and concentrate our efforts on producing and selling our 750 kW model," he says. "We have reduced our staff to around 40 from 70 of a few years ago and we are currently looking to breathe new life into our operations in Europe and the rest of the world. We are very pleased with the performance of the 750 kW and we hope to finalise a licensing agreement for North America and Mexico in the near future."

The Barneveld-based company has already sold its 45% share in the Zephyros 2 MW turbine development group to fellow group member Triodos Ventures, one of its major creditors. It is now in the process of selling the intellectual property rights to all its sub-600 kW models to start-up venture Wind Energy Solutions, based in Zijdewind, Holland.

Production of the Zephyros direct drive, permanent magnet turbine will go ahead under the management of the two remaining investors, Triodos Ventures and BVT Energie und Umwelttechnik, a German wind farm developer. They will work in partnership with ABB, the supplier of the generator and inverter, and the Mammoet engineering concern.

"Triodos decided to buy out Lagerwey last year after the company's problems effectively halted Zephyros development," says Sjef Peeraer, Zephyros BV's new commercial director. "The performance of the machine -- now renamed the Z 72 -- has far exceeded our expectations and the local power company, Eneco, was so impressed by the quality of power supply from the Maasvlakte prototype that it has bought it outright."

A contract has also been signed for five Zero series models for a pier on the Distridam, also on the Maasvlakte area of reclaimed land, which are planned for commissioning in March 2004. The client for this first commercial project is a large Dutch wind developer which has some 350 MW of installed capacity in development in the Netherlands with a further 450 MW in planning, says Peeraer. A further seven turbines from the Zero series will be produced for a project using the "smart tower" concept being developed by the Kema institute (Windpower Monthly, May 2000).

Orders for 2 MW unit

Zephyros holds letters of intent and memorandums of understanding for some 250 turbines, says Peeraer. "These were made over the past two years, so we are talking leads rather than anything more definite." The group is wary of taking prototypes into foreign markets before all the teething problems have been resolved. "Initially we want to fine tune the value chain -- production, selling and service -- in our home market which we define as the Benelux, France and the UK," he says. We will be looking to conclude exclusive franchise deals for other regions." The company is also seeking a strategic partner to provide working capital to finance expansion. "We are currently talking to a number of big players in the sector," he adds.

Production of the Zephyros is distributed, with ABB making the generator in Helsinki and the standard ACS 1000 inverter in Switzerland. The blades come from LM Glasfiber in Denmark, with the nacelle, tower and other components coming from other suppliers.

Legend continues

Rights to Lagerwey's smaller machines including the LW 250, which is popular in India; and the almost legendary LW 18/80, a familiar sight on farms throughout the Netherlands and Germany, looks set to be sold to Wind Energy Solutions (WES), a start-up concern based on personnel from Dutch blade manufacturer Polymarin, developing market specialist Teamwork Technology, and Lagerwey.

WES is looking to take what it terms Lagerwey's "robust and proven technology" into rural and developing country markets. Expansion will be through licensees and partners who will be responsible for sales, service and even manufacture, says WES's Bart Roorda, who joins the company from Polymarin.

WES has already forged a partnership with the North America AWE group, who will be taking the LW 18/80 into Canada's rural electrification market with anticipated sales of 40 to 100 turbines. "We will be focusing on Asia, India and Indonesia, and details of a twenty turbine project in Timor will be announced soon," says Roorda.

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