Satisfying German insurance demands -- Much more monitoring

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Wind turbine suppliers have quickly risen to the challenge of the stringent new criteria for condition monitoring and guarantees of machine availability in Germany now demanded by insurance companies before they will consider insuring wind power plant (Windpower Monthly, November 2002). A series of warranty packages are now in place to serve the specifics of the German market.

NEG Micon has introduced a condition monitoring system, developed with Danish company Brüel+Kjaer, and a protection concept which provides for fixed price reinsurance for seven years. The protection concept was formed in partnership with a large Scandinavian insurance company that currently insures 10,000 turbines worldwide, says NEG Micon's Ralf Breuer, and could possibly be extended to a period of 15 years.

Five year security

AN Windenergie, marketer of Bonus turbines in Germany, is offering a five year security package from mid-2003 in co-operation with insurance brokers VfU of Quickborn. "Legal transactions with a lifetime beyond five years violate public policy," says the company's Norbert Giese. The security package is only offered in Germany to meet the peculiarities of that market where the offtake price for wind electricity is guaranteed by government, says Guise. "In other countries wind stations are treated as power stations, while in Germany they play the role of financial assets comparable with federal savings bonds," he explains.

Nordex is offering three new packages. The most extensive is its premium package. This is limited to certain new turbines installed in Germany -- the Südwind S70 and S77 1.5 MW turbines and the Nordex N80 2.5 MW and Nordex N90 2.3 MW machines. Those signing up for the premium package get full maintenance, including technical operation of turbines for up to 12 years and a guarantee of high technical availability over the contract lifetime. The only risks not covered, says Nordex, "are poor winds, and damage by third parties or under force majeure conditions."

Premium package

The premium package -- at a cost of around EUR 0.13/kWh generated -- is only available with the company's condition monitoring service, on offer for all its turbines from the beginning of 2003. Operators of smaller or older turbines can choose between two other packages. For all megawatt turbines, they can sign up for maintenance without repairs (but including the technical availability guarantee) for a period of up to nine years. Alternatively they can choose a pure maintenance contract, which can run for up to six years.

Vestas, meanwhile, has its Optisave product, available since the start of the year. This offers "complete insurance protection" in co-operation with insurance company Gothaer, says the company's Andreas Eichler. He adds that Optisave is one of several confidence building measures launched by the company after it experienced a build-up of technical turbine problems on its flagship 2 MW machine, requiring a retrofit program, now completed, on around 150 turbines (Windpower Monthly, December 2003).

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