Swedish wind plant developers and utilities are getting together with energy agency Nutek to issue an international tender for supply of five to ten wind turbines. The catch is that bidders have to propose projects which can produce electricity for SEK 0.27 SEK/kWh ($0.038/kWh), or less. The aim of the unusual combined call for bids -- to be issued by the end of the year -- is to reduce the cost of wind plant being imported to Sweden.

Expressions of interest in the scheme were requested from the world's leading wind turbine manufacturers in October. Included in Nutek's working group for the tender are utilities Vattenfall, Sydkraft and Göteborg Energi as well as two independent wind power developers, Slitevind and Vindkompaniet. The key parameter will be the cost of generation. The working group has intentionally not specified the capacity it requires, the expected annual generation or any technical limitations. Bidders may also bid with an offshore option.

The working group will evaluate the tenders and expects to make a decision by April 1996. The best tender will receive a contract for five to ten machines for delivery in 1997 or 1998. The contract will include an option for a significant number of additional turbines. This will be exercised when the first units have proved they meet requirements. As well as the requirement on cost, other criteria which have to be met include a demand that sound pressure levels must not exceed Lwa= 97 dB re 1pW, for turbines up to 600 kW, 98 dB for turbines of 600-800 kW and 100 dB for turbines with rated capacities over 800 kW. Lightweight components will be given a special credit in the evaluation.

This system of tendering has been successfully used by Nutek in the past when buying energy products such as refrigerators, heating pumps and electric cars. The result has been an accelerated market introduction of more cost-effective and energy efficient products. It is the first time the approach has been applied to wind energy.