Public funding but no takers yet

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A 4 MW wind turbine proposed by Germany's dominant wind firm, Enercon, is set to overshadow even the giant 3 MW Aeolus unit at Wilhelmshaven, the country's largest so far. If realised, the 4 MW unit will be double the size of Enercon's 1.5 MW, its largest so far.

About DEM 10 million of public money, or about half the development costs, is being made available and the Lower Saxony government is expected to offer a loan for up to two-thirds of the amount, "because Enercon is based in Lower Saxony and we want to improve the industrial strength of the land," says Jens Busse of the economy ministry.

The federal research ministry has also authorised support for about DEM 3.5 million. The sum is relatively small compared with the DEM 10 million federal contribution to Aeolus 11, which cost some DEM 40 million. Nevertheless, it more or less exhausts the ministry's wind budget this year. Out of a total of DEM 40 million, DEM 36 million is allocated to the tail end costs of the ministry's 250 MW wind development program that ended in 1995.

Two elements of the 4 MW project remain undecided: the turbine location and the operating company. Towns and parishes in the Hannover area are considering adopting the project, using it as an independent attraction to the coming world trade exhibition, Expo 2000. The machine would be the second tallest structure in the region after the Hannover television tower. So far no firm offers have been made, says Busse.

Enercon has shown interest in operating the turbine, he adds. Utility participation also looks logical. But the operator of the 3 MW Aeolus turbine, Preussenelektra, has remained ominously silent so far.

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