Bankruptcy blows project off course

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A planned 40 MW German offshore wind farm in the Baltic Sea has been blown off course after severe turbulence at Neptun TechnoProduct (NTP), one of the companies developing the project. NTP, based in Rostock and a subsidiary of Neptun TechnoProduct Projekt und Verwaltungsgesellschaft (Neptun PV), entered bankruptcy at the start of 2003. NTP's partner, turbine manufacturer Nordex, is keen to continue with the project, for 21, 2l.5 MW turbines and now undergoing an environmental audit, but cannot proceed until a clear direction is decided from Neptun PV.

NTP had won political support from the coastal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern because the turbines were to be supplied by two manufacturers with production facilities in Rostock, Nordex and DeWind. DeWind, which had a framework contract with NTP for production of its 1 MW, 1.25 MW and 2 MW machines, was to use NTP's facilities for turbine assembly.

Black clouds began in 2001, when DeWind delayed its order for ten turbines, the first of a planned production using NTP's workforce and facilities of one turbine a week. DeWind was acquired by Britain's FKI's Energy Technology Group in 2002 and turbine production was shifted to the UK. With no local ties, DeWind took itself out of the offshore project and NTP declared itself bankrupt. A third, minor player in the offshore consortium, Brand Elektra (formerly Nordwind), also pulled out.

"With NTP insolvent, no one quite knows what will happen next," says Ralf Peters of Nordex. "The project is extremely important. The location is ideal and the station is of a good size to test offshore turbines," he stresses. "We want to continue with the project. This could be with, but also without, NTP." He says the project is attractive enough to bring in new partners.

NTP says it is negotiating with an industrial company over participation in the project and is holding talks with another German turbine manufacturer -- reportedly REpower -- to take over NTP's assembly facilities in Rostock, which would bring a second manufacturer back to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The company is majority owned by the Lindberg family, which at one time had a stake in turbine maker Südwind before it was taken over by Nordex.

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