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HOWDEN TURBINE EMERGES FROM THE GRAVE
1 February 1996
Sweden's infamous and long defunct 750 kW Howden wind turbine has emerged from the grave. The machine was originally imported from its Scottish manufacturer by KVAB, a company set up by Sweden's utility sector to demonstrate wind power at work. This the turbine failed spectacularly to do. Installed in an eye catching location -- an island in the middle of Gothenburg harbour -- the unit stood idle for years after its pitch control hydraulics failed almost immediately. A mechanic from Scotland spent months in Gothenburg trying to get it to work again. As time passed, two theories emerged about why the wind turbine continued to stand idle. Wind power enthusiasts alleged that far from wishing to demonstrate the workability of wind power, KVAB had a remit to achieve the opposite. Meantime, Gothenburg locals were saying the Scottish mechanic had become so fond of the town's women that he had no desire to return home. In the end local utility, Göteborg Energi, took over the turbine, replacing it with a Danish Bonus unit in 1993 that has turned ever since. The Howden turbine was sold as scrap. This was not to be the end of the story, though. Thomas Claesson, who runs a small electric company, bought the scrap and has been breathing new life into it ever since. His renovation of the machine includes buying a new set of blades and rebuilding it for stall instead of pitch control. The modified Howden 750 is now installed on the flat plains of central Sweden and is expected to produce about 1 GWh a year.
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