Busy time at Hanover Fair

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Germany's huge Hanover Industry Trade Fair continues to attract exhibitors from the wind business, even though it took place in late April, just a month before the dedicated WindEnergy trade fair mounted by a competing German exhibition venue in Hamburg (main story). But exhibitors in Hanover insisted that a presence alongside some of the world's major power companies in the energy section of the fair is essential for the relatively small wind industry.

"The wind sector can still be somewhat myopic," said Jan Ross of turbine manufacturer Fuhrländer. "We tend to think everyone knows about wind energy by now, but there are still lots of people out there in the world who don't and that's why we simply have to have a presence at Hanover." Andreas Duser from competitor Enercon agreed, saying he valued "the political outreach" of the fair, which attracted some 150,000 visitors.

"Visitors interest in the renewable energy sector has risen dramatically this year, so we will significantly expand this focus next year," said Sepp Heckmann, head of the Hannover Messe.

Of the 5175 exhibitors from 66 countries at Hanover, 215 companies that have some involvement in the wind sector exhibited, most of them component suppliers and 144 of them based in Germany, including wind turbine gearbox manufacturers Winergy, Bosch Rexroth and Eickhoff. Among the main wind project developers and finance companies were WPD, Energiekontor, GHF and WSB, all from Germany. Wind energy associations, energy agencies and other wind power support organisations were also much in evidence.

Around 40 wind firms exhibited in the energy hall, including four wind turbine manufacturers. Germany's Fuhrländer and Enercon were joined by Danish Vestas, with the three dominating the wind presence. All reported heavy visitor traffic. The same could not be said for India's Suzlon Energy. Having recently installed its first turbine in Europe -- a prototype 2.1 MW machine now turning in Germany near the Luxembourg border -- it also took substantial space. But with a minimalist look and few clues to its Indian origin, it stood out as the new boy on the block. Speculation on whether it plans to establish a production facility in Germany was rife.

Fuhrländer displayed the nacelle of its 2.5 MW machine, which attracted intensive examination. "This is the turbine with which we'll achieve some expansion in 2006 compared with the around 135 MW installed in 2005," said Ross confidently. Enercon exhibited the nacelle of its 2 MW model along with its wind-based stand-alone energy supply system and its wind-driven desalination plant, now ready for the market. The stand was graced by a visit from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Vestas, perhaps mindful of its current patent dispute with Enercon (Windpower Monthly, May 2006), featured turbine models rather than real hardware. With Enercon nearby and German engineering association VDMA handing out advice to exhibitors on how to tackle product plagiarism, Vestas may have felt a chill in the air.

The four active wind turbine suppliers were joined by a would-be turbine maker EU Energy. The small British company, recently acquired by American cable producer CTC, is intending to re-launch the German DeWind turbine in a new American-market version. DeWind was offloaded by large British industrial concern FKI last year, which apparently regretted its move into the wind business with its purchase of the ailing German company two years earlier. EU Energy and CTC mounted separate exhibits in separate halls at the Hanover fair, with CTC exhibiting its cable technology in Europe for the first time.

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