Cable makers open Turkish wind market

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Turkey's first wind farm came on line last month at a site near Izmir, kicking off development of a wind market which is so far dominated by just one company, Demirer Holding, based in Istanbul. The Izmir wind farm, of three Enercon 500 kW turbines, is slated to grow to 100 MW by mid 1999, according to Önder Demirer. It has been developed in a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) project and is linked to the grid of the national electricity utility, TEAS.

Demirer Holding is a family owned business concentrating on manufacture of cables for power and telecommunications. Önder Demirer's interest in wind energy was sparked by a visit to the Hannover trade fair in Germany in 1996, prompting him to investigate Turkey's wind potential. Later that year the company erected 33 monitoring masts around the country, investing $3 million in wind data research. "I now have two thousand megawatts of wind potential in my hands," says Demirer.

The company's new wind energy department, employing 18 people, has applied to develop projects with a combined generating capacity of 346 MW. Funding these BOT systems, as well as the Izmir station, is a job too large for Demirer Holding alone. Talks are progressing for project financing with utility involvement. Demirer reveals that three utilities and two wind turbine manufacturers are pursuing this avenue: Danish utility ELSAM, wind turbine manufacturer Nordex Balcke-Dürr, German utility Preussenelektra, American utility Southern Corporation, and German wind turbine manufacturer Enercon.

Demirer is a board member of the Turkish wind energy association, founded in 1992. Since then it has fuelled broad political interest in wind power. The Turkish minister of energy, Cummur Ersumir, and the environment minister, Imrin Aykunt, visited the Izmir wind farm when it was linked to the grid in February -- and Turkey's president, Suleyman Demire, is expected to attend the wind farm's inauguration this month.

Recently the company has been working on a 50 MW project, for which Nordex Balcke-Dürr may supply the machines, though others are in the running Demirer says. "We are open to anybody who can bring finance."

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