ABB 3 MW prototype caught in fierce siting controversy

The 3 MW prototype wind turbine on which ABB is to launch and test its much heralded Windformer concept is currently embroiled in a fierce siting controversy. Officials from the Norwegian county of Nord-Tröndelag, where the turbine is supposed to be built, are opposing its erection on Hundhammerfjellet at Abelvær on the island of Nærøy. The siting application was lodged by utility Nord-Tröndelag Elektrisitetsverk for consideration by the water and energy administration. The county argues that the new turbine, intended as a pilot for a proposed development of up to 15 turbines on the site, should not go ahead before an environmental impact assessment for the entire project has been completed -- particularly as there is a single turbine already operating on the site. The project is condemned as being a "piecemeal" approach to launching wind development in the region. The 3 MW turbine is to be built by ScanWind using ABB's Windformer concept for a wind turbine without a gear box or transformer and for the first time employing permanent magnets (Windpower Monthly, July 2000). The innovative combination, claims ABB, could save 20% on the cost of electricity brought ashore from a wind plant several miles out at sea. In the face of local opposition to the giant structure, qualified support for the project has come from an unexpected quarter: the Directorate for Nature Management (DN), the conservation arm of the environment ministry. DN concedes that commercial, technical and policy considerations support the case for a prototype or demonstration turbine. But it is not a fan of Norwegian energy policy. "All projects, whether involving water, wind or gas power, claim to be improving the national, regional or local energy balance and security of supply. Work is carried out in parallel on all alternatives, with no unified energy policy or basic discussion of national energy policy aims." The row over Hundhammerfjellet has implications for another, larger project on the island of Ytre Vikna, comprising 54-75 turbines, and for a series of companies who were hoping to supply towers.

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