Prototype picked for Italy project

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Sicilian company Moncada Costruzioni Srl inaugurated a wind farm in the region of Agrigento on December 2, featuring a new 750 kW prototype turbine designed by its wholly owned Sistemi Elettronici unit. The 9.25 MW plant at Monte Mele is otherwise made up of ten Gamesa 850 kW turbines.

The Moncada prototype is a direct-drive machine without a gearbox. Salvatore Moncada says that as a six-month testing period for the prototype begins, work has already begun on designing a second version. The company invested EUR 2 million in research and development on the turbine, which is designed to perform well in areas like the Mediterranean basin characterised by light winds.

Moncada -- which diversified from construction activities into wind farm construction four years ago -- collaborated on the prototype with British wind energy consultancy Garrad Hassan and Denmark's Risø National Laboratory. Moncada says the group is likely to begin using the turbines first in its own portfolio of wind farm projects, but it should be ready to sell the technology on the market as early as end-2006.

While Italy has not been known for its wind energy technology in recent years, Mon-cada is not the sole Italian company currently turning out turbines. Bolzano-based Leitner AG has a prototype for its 1.2 MW Leit-wind unit, while Taranto-based Jonica Impianti has begun selling its small, 20 kW machine domestically.

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