Eldorado gold runs dry, overseas aid

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A follow up programme to continue Germany's support of wind energy development in Third World countries is appearing more unlikely than ever. The research ministry's five year Eldorado programme came to an end in October and it appears that widespread government budget cutting is set to dash wind industry hopes of a new round of funding.

Not only is the ministry budget tight this year, but there are also political doubts about the usefulness of the programme for supporting the German wind industry. The aim of Eldorado was to give wind turbine manufacturers a chance to test and demonstrate their machines in other climate zones. Between 1993 and 1996, Eldorado paid 70% of the list price of 22 MW of wind plant installed in a range of developing countries by a variety of small companies. Total spending amounted to DEM 55 million. Winning an Eldorado grant helped several small wind companies survive in Germany, but they have not had the resources to pursue overseas markets. Larger wind companies, however, are breaking into these markets without government funding, ministry officials point out. Both the economy ministry and the office for overseas co-operation and foreign development have been approached with a view to their continuing Eldorado's role, but without success. Within the research ministry it was felt that support of wind energy abroad more properly fell into the realms of overseas aid or trade promotion.

A research ministry report on the Eldorado programme, with proposals for a new start based on low interest loans, is now to be considered by research minister Jürgen Rüttgers at the end of January. His ruling is expected by spring.

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