Siemens still sticking to Enron

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Siemens Nederland is ending 2002 in a flurry of projects which look set to consolidate its position as a major turnkey developer for Dutch utilities and show unshaken confidence in its long term collaborator, the German division of Enron Wind. After earlier projects with power companies Essent and NUON, for the 60 MW Delfzijl Zuid and Harry van den Kroonenberg 13.5 MW projects, respectively, Siemens Nederland has announced that it is to work with Rotterdam-based power company Eneco on retrofitting the Slufterdam wind farm in the Maas estuary with eight, Enron 1.5 MW machines.

Work on the EUR 14 million project was set to begin last month for completion in the second half of 2002, says Siemens' project manager Richard Luyjendijk. Siemens will be responsible for all aspects of the project and the power will be sold by Eneco as green electricity under its Ecostroom label.

"We are removing the existing machines which are around 12 to 13 years old and building the new units on 65 metre towers on the 23 metre high dike which surrounds the Slufter [silt deposit]," says Luyendijk. "The planning authorities regard it as a retrofit so we only have to make some small adjustments to the building permit and environmental impact report."

At the same time the Hague-based electrical engineering and electronics concern will also be working on a turnkey project for power company NUON at Ulketocht in Noord Holland, comprising six 750 kW machines which it hopes to complete in the next seven months. Unusual for Siemens, however, on this project it will be using Lagerwey turbines. Luyjendijk denies that this signals any weakening of the company's close ties with Enron Wind.

"The building permit specifies a maximum rotor diameter of 50 metres, which effectively meant a choice between Vestas and Lagerwey. Lagerwey won out on the strength of its guarantee," says Luyendijk. "For Delfzijl Zuid, Enron won an open tender and in our first Dutch wind farm, Harry van den Kroonenberg, in 1997, we used Windmaster machines, so we don't just work with Enron," he adds. Permits are still awaited for Delfzijl Zuid.

"Obviously, like everybody else we are watching developments with Enron very closely but we have been assured that Enron Wind operations will be unaffected by Enron's collapse." Nevertheless, Siemens is taking protective measures: "For the Slufter project we are looking at taking out legal guarantees that we get the products that are built with our money, so we are happy with the situation."

Across the border in Eeklo, Belgium, Siemens is set to install an Enron 1.5 MW in collaboration with an unnamed Belgian company in what Luyendijk describes as a "trial project." "If this shows that we can work well together, then we will enter into a formal collaboration which will result in us building around 100 MW in Belgium." Details will be announced in early 2002, he says.

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