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Prototype testing in North America

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South Korean company Kowintec is expecting to test its unusual double-rotor 1 MW wind turbine prototype in the United States sometime this summer. Established by six Korean university professors, the company has also developed a 30 kW turbine, one of which has been operating in Saemankum, South Korea, since 2000. Both models use a "dual rotor system," which has been patented for 21 countries.

America's AB Corporation of Portland, Oregon, will build the 1 MW machine, with the blades imported from Canada. The company hopes the first prototype will be installed next to the Colombia River in July. One of the founders of Kowintec is Shin Chan, vice chairman of the Korea Wind Energy Association. He says he hopes the wind turbine will eventually be used in South Korea.

While the country has a mere 9.95 MW of wind power installed to date, mostly in single turbine projects owned by local governments, the government is hoping that by 2020, 10% of the country's electricity supply will come from renewables. To achieve that goal, it wants 4500 MW of wind power as well as other renewables.

At present utilities in South Korea are obliged to source 1% of their power supplies from renewables. Low interest loans for wind projects are available from the government on a case by case basis, but Shin Chan says there is also talk of an additional subsidy program.

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