Prospective wind turbine supplier Darwind of the Netherlands and international power engineering group Converteam are to collaborate on developing direct drive, permanent magnet generators for Darwind's anticipated new generation of offshore wind turbines. The research and development team will be based in Rugby, England. Unlike wind turbines currently deployed at sea, the 4.7 MW unit being developed by Darwind is without a gearbox and designed specifically for offshore use, where noise constraints are not a problem, but minimum maintenance is vital. Darwind expects to put up a prototype at the Dutch wind turbine test facility at Wieringermeer in the second half of 2008, with the machines becoming commercially available in 2010. Founded in 2005, Darwind became part of the Econcern group last year. Econcern has an offshore project portfolio of some 2000 MW through its Evelop subsidiary. Darwind selected Converteam as its technology partner for generators and power converters. Converteam emerged out of Alstom in 2005 and is now owned by Barclays Private Equity France. It says it supplies over 5 GW of low and medium voltage power conversion systems to the wind sector each year.
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