Spanish wind turbine manufacturers will present three of their new prototypes in the near future. The secrecy accompanying development of new prototypes seems to be an attempt to beat foreign manufacturers and gain a stronger foothold on the domestic market.

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The race to beat foreign manufacturers in the burgeoning domestic wind market has galvanised Spanish wind turbine manufacturers into building their own prototypes, three of which are to be presented within the next 12 months.

Ecotècnia, a Barcelona-based firm with machines at Tarifa and the Canary Islands, plans to present its 500 kW turbine sometime early next year, while Made, a subsidiary of the state power conglomerate, Endesa, claims its 500 kW machine will be ready to roll about the same time. But the turbine rousing the most curiosity is a 300 kW which Desarollos E—licos SA -- a subsidiary of the pioneering wind power company, Abengoa -- plans to present within the next couple of weeks. Abengoa developed much of a 30 MW plant at Tarifa and 5 MW on Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.

The machine -- baptised A-300 -- is apparently outwardly similar in design to Danish Vestas and Bonus technology, although little else is known about its development which has been carried out in record time and shrouded in secrecy. Managing director of Desarollos E—licos, Tomas Andueza, is not known for his high profile in wind power and currently refuses to talk about the turbine. However, Manuel Lara, managing director of Gestenga, a government organisation in Spain's north western Galicia region involved in power projects, says he has been shown photographs of the turbine. Desarollos E—licos has also told him the machine would be unveiled at Spain's biggest wind farm, Tarifa, in the coming weeks.

The secrecy with which Desarollos E—licos developed the machine has fomented a great deal of speculation within the industry since June, when the project was announced in a full page national newspaper advertisement. Some sources then doubted the authenticity of the claim, ascribing the announcement to the aggressive commercial policy of Desarollos E—licos and its designs on prime plots of land in the windswept regions of Galicia. The company, it was argued, needed to show it had the technology so it could compete with national and foreign competitors.

The newspaper advertisement depicted turbines resembling those built at Tarifa in conjunction with US company Kenetech under the name Abengoa Wind Power (AWP) before the two companies split this spring. If tests on the new prototype at Tarifa prove successful, it is likely to become Desarollos E—licos' workhorse. The company has requested and gained permission to develop some 200 MW of power in Galicia for a total of 697 turbines.

Progress on the two 500 kW models under development by Ecotècnia and Endesa's Made subsidiary has also been kept hush-hush, although spokesmen for both firms were confident the turbines would be ready for testing in mid 1995. "We can't be too careful in revealing details regarding new prototypes or potential sites," says Antoni Mart’nez of Ecotècnia, which has several projects in the pipeline, including a 15 MW wind farm in Galicia. "Competition is very stiff -- especially from foreign firms," he says.

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