Direct drive turbine future under review -- Norway's Scanwind 3 MW

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Scanwind, Norway's only wind turbine manufacturer, says it has temporarily put the brakes on commercialisation of its 3 MW machine, which has no gearbox and operates with a permanent magnet generator. A prototype has been under test for two years at Hundhammerfjellet on the west coast of Norway, 300 kilometres north of Trondheim.

Plans were underway to start production of the turbines at Scanwind's Verdal manufacturing plant north of Trondheim, with expectations of eventually turning out 100 annually. But company founder Torolf Pettersen says Scanwind is "in a difficult situation" regarding its future plans. He declines to be explicit. "We have recently finished a so-called Internal Commercialisation Project. The project target was to work out the complete plan for how we shall launch Scanwind on an international market in the near future," Pettersen adds.

The Scanwind turbine was developed in co-operation with Siemens, which supplied the electrical system, including the permanent magnet synchronous generator, before Siemens chose to buy Danish wind turbine maker Bonus. As the supplier, Siemens was responsible for the complete engineering and transmission of the generator system. At the time of the Scanwind prototype's inauguration, Siemens referred to the machine's potential for use offshore. "Based on this prototype, it is possible to derive gearless, permanent-magnet generator systems with power ratings of 5 MW and above for these potential applications without any problems," said Siemens.

Scanwind is 95% owned by utility Nord-Trondelag Elektrisitetsverk Nett AS (NTE), which has been planning to expand the Hundhammerfjellet site to 50 MW. NTE also has government approval for a 249 MW offshore plant at Ytre Vikna, though it has not announced a turbine supplier. Late last year, NTE promised to invest NOK 100 million (EUR 12.7 million) in the Verdal plant in 2006.

In January, a Scanwind prototype suffered a set back when a blade broke apart in a storm, spreading blade pieces over a wide area, according to press reports. The company declines to discuss the incident, but it told local press the break up was due to faulty construction on the part of the company's Czech supplier and it had switched to an unnamed Danish supplier. Pettersen says Scanwind's main product will now be an upgraded model, the Scanwind 3.5 MW 3500 DL.

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