All hands on offshore design -- NEG Micon shoots for 3 MW

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NEG Micon Holland is to develop a 3 MW turbine for offshore use over the next three years. The Rhenen-based company will be participating in the Dutch Offshore Wind Energy Converter (DOWEC) project sponsored by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (EZ) and government environmental agency NOVEM. Also involved is the Dutch energy research centre (ECN), the Technical University in Delft, and blade manufacturer LM Glasfiber Holland. Marine and Dredging Contractors Van Oord ACZ and Ballast Nedam will provide offshore expertise.

The DOWEC project's ultimate goal is to develop a 5 MW or 6 MW wind turbine with a 90-100 metre rotor diameter for use in the North Sea by 2008. The first step towards that goal will be a 3 MW research and development turbine to be built onshore by end 2001.

According to Jan Madsen, NEG Micon Holland director and DOWEC project manager, "All the partners involved in DOWEC agree that the best way to minimise the risks in such a huge project is to give the highest possible priority to the planning phase. We've spent a lot of time determining the best ways to bundle our strengths in this project and this has been a success."

Participation in the project has called for a radically different approach to turbine design says Madsen. "Normally we work with a much shorter R&D phase and we cover our costs by designing turbines that work first time, whereas here the researchers are concerned with forcing failures so that they can discover new ways to get as much value as possible out of the wind energy available." It is hoped the turbine will cut costs by at least 10%.

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