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United Kingdom

Eastern Group heads for ten cent goal

The first megawatt scale wind turbine made by Renewable Energy Systems (RES) is being bought by the Eastern Group, an energy company. The machine breaks new ground for both companies. It is the first wind turbine to be designed by RES -- a subsidiary of the Sir Robert McAlpine construction group -- and represents Eastern's first venture into wind.

RES developed the 1 MW RES 52/1000 machine with Peter Brotherhood Ltd, which is manufacturing it at its Peterborough plant. RES is based in St Albans. Extra backing for the project came from the UK government and the European Commission's Thermie program. The machine is variable speed and pitch controlled, with a 45 metre hub height and 52 metre rotor. The demonstration turbine should begin operation in October in Antrim, Northern Ireland. After tests, it will be marketed for commercial use in the UK and abroad.

The turbine is to be owned by Eastern Generation, the rapidly growing generating business of Eastern Group. It is the country's fourth largest generator, producing 10% of the UK's electricity from coal and gas. The wind turbine purchase marks the company's first step towards its goal of producing 10% of its electricity from renewables by 2010.

"We believe wind energy could account for the lion's share of our immediate renewables portfolio," says Eddie Hyams of Eastern Generation. Solar and biomass are being considered longer term. Eastern Group also owns Eastern Electricity, its electricity and gas distribution arm which offers its customers a green tariff to fund renewable energy projects.

Output from the wind turbine will be fed into the grid and sold to Northern Ireland Electricity under a NI Non Fossil Fuel Obligation contract. Once built, it will be operated and maintained by B9 Energy (O&M) Ltd, a wind developer based in Northern Ireland.

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