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Strong guys create French original

Pioneering French turbine manufacturer Vergnet erected the first grid-connected prototype of its unusual 1 MW wind turbine design last month at the company's test site at Greneville-en-Beauce, 40 kilometres north-east of Orléans. The wind turbine sits atop a mast supported by guys and has a two-blade rotor.

More conventionally, it has an asynchronous generator and a gearbox. In keeping with Vergnet's philosophy of designing turbines for difficult conditions and terrain, the machine can tolerate weak grids and is easy to install thanks to its patented self-erecting mechanism.

The hoist system, developed by Vergnet and Belgian manufacturer Sarens, consists of a specially designed tower and winch configuration, which means it can be erected using cranes smaller than 90 tonnes. The nacelle can also be lowered to the ground for easy maintenance and in cyclone regions.

The first commercial unit will be installed early next year in Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. Development of the turbine is being supported by French national energy agency ADEME and OSEO-Anvar, which helps fund innovative research in France. Previously, Vergnet's largest capacity turbine was a 275 kW unit. The company has installed over 500 machines worldwide since it launched its first turbine in 1993 and specialises in off-grid technology and remote applications of wind power.

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