Back in business under US owners

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Production at Tacke Windenergie GmbH in Germany is back in swing, following a turbulent half year of bankruptcy and subsequent takeover by Enron Wind Corp (EWC). In late November, 30 days after a scaled down workforce of 100 resumed under the new management, the first TW 600 kW turbine left the Salzbergen factory, headed for a site near Dresden.

"We are pleased that production has begun again and we are making intense efforts to win contracts for 1998," says Finn Hansen, new managing director at Tacke Windenergie. He was formerly with Zond, Enron's wind company in California. Six more TW 600 machines were due to be assembled last month.

Hansen says the company is still weighing the merits of the TW 600 model against those of the Zond 750 kW turbine, marketed by EWC and made in California, with a view to possibly dropping one of the models or creating a hybrid (Windpower Monthly, November 1997). "No final decision on the technology has yet been made," he says, adding that even if one had been taken, he would not necessarily divulge the information, "competition being what it is."

Hansen expects the company to start producing the far larger Tacke TW 1.5 MW turbine -- one of the main attractions for EWC's takeover -- "very early in 1998." Two of the machines had already been erected before the bankruptcy of Tacke Windtechnik in July last year. A generator was replaced on one of these in early December.

"Future sales of the machine will include large offshore projects," Hansen says. "Offshore projects need a lot of preparation. They are usually carried out with utilities and these need a lot of time. But my probable estimate is that the first 1.5 megawatt machines could go for an offshore wind station in 1999."

EWC bought the Tacke assets through a new German subsidiary, Enron Wind Holding GmbH, "to strengthen Enron's position in this important [European] market," the company has reported. Enron Wind Holding was founded together with two German EWC subsidiaries, Tacke Windenergie and Tacke Service GmbH, a service and maintenance provider.

For the future Hansen anticipates that parent company Enron "will be a help to us." But contacts have not yet been built up. "So far we have had to spend a lot of time getting a foothold, getting the business up and running."

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