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Of the eight wind turbines being developed in Germany with financial support from the federal research ministry (BMFT) two in particular are giving cause for speculation. The first, the 3 MW Aeolus II, because of its sheer size and cost and the second, the Autoflug 1 MW, because the developer has no track record in wind energy.

The Aeolus II development is being carried out by MBB Förder und Hebesysteme (MBBFH) of Delmenhorst, a 100% owned subsidiary of Deutsche Aerospace, owned by Daimler Benz. Over the years MBBFH has ditched all its wind energy activities apart from the Aeolus, developed in co-operation with Kvaerner Turbin of Sweden. Two 3 MW sister machines are now in operation, one at Wilhelmshaven in Germany, operated by utility Preussenelektra, and the other on Gotland in Sweden, a project shared with utility Vattenfall. MBBFH is now seeking further participants in the giant project. "We are now looking for partners, also abroad, to participate in and aid the swift development of the Aeolus to reach series production and commercial sales," says the company's Dietmar Knünz. He believes MBB and Kvaerner have a significant advantage in their experience with large machines. "At the moment the two Aeoli are working well," says Knünz. Since they came into operation in the autumn and spring of 1993 they have had an availability of 95-97% with production exceeding predictions."

MBBFH is now using research ministry money to seek ways of cutting the costs of the machine, such as using parallel stage planet gears, casting the hub instead of welding it, and using steel instead of concrete for the tower. MBB expects to have a new Aeolus III operating within two to three years and Knünz is confident that a commercial Aeolus giant could be on the commercial market within four or five years time.

The first Autoflug 1 MW prototype, a two-bladed wind turbine, is to be installed in July next year in Friedrichskoog and is one of four 1 MW machines supported by BMFT (see table). Each of the four represents a different design philosophy, ranging from the gearless Enercon, the vertical axis Heidelberg and the standard, three-bladed Tacke design. The Autoflug will be operated by a shareholding, the owners of which have yet to be announced. BMFT made it a condition of its support that the operator should be a competent independent party such as an electric utility. Autoflug Energietechnik of Rellingen, which is also developing a 100 kW wind turbine, expects to install around 50 of its 1 MW design before the end of 1997. Autoflug's first 100 kW, with a hinged tower, was installed at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Koog test field early last month.

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