The Enercon philosophy is to build up a market for the gearless 500 kW E40 as a quality product with a life span of at least 20 years -- comparable to that of conventional power stations. Although the E40 may appear more expensive per kW than other makes, Wobben claims that as soon as maintenance costs and expenditure on replacement of parts are taken into account, the E40 is the most competitive machine producing the cheapest kilowatt hours on the market. As Enercon builds virtually all the components for the machine and is therefore not reliant on suppliers, Wobben anticipates no great problems in setting up a team to form the core of a new American production workforce.
By the end of 1993, Enercon had installed 88 MW of wind capacity, ranging from its early 55 kW E-15/16 models to the latest gearless E40/500 kW turbines. Throughout its ten year history, Enercon has developed all its machines for variable speed operation and has long been the leading wind turbine manufacturer in Germany.
The pace of production at the Enercon factory is now fast and furious. In the first three months of this year, 13 MW of Enercon turbines went into the ground. At the moment 2 MW is leaving the Aurich factory each week with workers employed in two shifts, with the rate of production expected to rise again sharply in the autumn to eight to ten E40s a week. As Germany's coastal sites are steadily filled up, the inland market will shortly become much more significant, says Wobben, providing a market of 50 to 100 Enercon machines a year. At the moment Enercon employs 410.