Big utility and leading wind firm team up

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Germany's largest wind turbine manufacturer and the country's second largest electric utility have agreed to officially co-operate on development and operation of wind plant overseas. The deal, between Enercon and Preussenelektra, was clinched at a signing ceremony at Enercon's Aurich premises on September 3.

According to Preussenelekra chairman, Hans-Dieter Harig, the aim is to combine Enercon's wind know-how with his company's experience in the energy sector and its knowledge of wind plant operation. Enercon has supplied one third of the wind capacity installed in Germany so far, building and installing over 1200 turbines. "We especially want to support the expansion of renewables where renewable plant can be operated in a sensible manner and where they make sense economically," says Harig, adding that he believes such development of the world's best wind resource, implicitly outside Germany, is a precondition for the long term development of renewables.

In a joint statement, both companies stress the co-operation agreement is not exclusive: "The entrepreneurial freedom of both partners is not affected." Enercon's Aloys Wobben says that technical development remains in the hands of his company.

The deal was not unexpected in the ranks of German industry, comments Vera Litzke of the association for the promotion of wind energy, Fördergesellschaft Windenergie (FGW) "Once the megawatt turbines appeared on the market the utilities were bound to start getting involved. But I think the co-operation still seems a bit odd to many in the wind sector, considering the history of antagonism between the wind industry and the utilities because of the utility sector's campaign to have the Electricity Feed Law rescinded, " she says.

Until now, Preussenelektra's interest in renewables has centred more on construction of undersea cables to Scandinavia to tap cheap hydro than in wind development. Its only active dabbling in wind has been with the 3 MW Aeolus turbine at Wilhelmshaven, the two WKA 60 1.2 MW turbines -- on Helgoland (now being dismantled) and at Kaiser Wilhelm Koog -- and its investment in two 500 kW Tacke Windtechnik turbines in Latvia together with utility Latvenergo.

"Now we are looking at ten wind projects, mainly in southern Europe but also in the Baltic countries which may be followed up in co-operation with Enercon," says Preussenelektra's Wolf Hatje. Talks with Enercon began about nine months ago, he adds. "With all the fuss about the Electricity Feed Law we realised turbine manufacturers need new markets," continues Hatje. "We signed the three page co-operation contract for the sake of mutual trust -- both partners are going to have to be very open with each other." Hatje also observes: "There is an enormous potential and interest in wind energy in other countries around the world where energy consumption is rising. We want to tap this potential and, of course, to earn money."

Grown big on profits earned from electricity generation, Preussenelektra is the strongest horse in the huge Veba group, with 1995 sales of DEM 15.8 billion, and a 1995 post-tax annual result before profit transfers of DEM 1 billion. It operates 15,433 MW of its own power stations and accesses another 3348 MW. The Preussenelektra power station matrix has strong coal and nuclear components with 7515 MW and 5579 MW respectively. Lignite, oil and gas, and hydro pumped storage are used for 4703 MW while new renewables comprise just 110.4 MW.

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