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Cyclone-proof wind turbines-the island solution?

Wind turbines that can operate through cyclones and earthquakes are increasingly being installed on small, isolated islands that seek improved energy independence, a wind power producer said on Friday. France's fifth largest wind power producer Aerowatt this week launched a 3.85 megawatt-wind farm on the small cyclone-prone French Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, enough to provide power to 12,000 inhabitants out of a total of 700,000. "This is the first wind farm installed on Reunion," Jerome Billerey, head of the company, told Reuters. But installing wind turbines on remote islands can often be complex due to poor logistics, limited port infrastructure and the hurdle of regular cyclones.

PARIS, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Wind turbines that can operate through cyclones and earthquakes are increasingly being installed on small, isolated islands that seek improved energy independence, a wind power producer said on Friday.

France's fifth largest wind power producer Aerowatt this week launched a 3.85 megawatt-wind farm on the small cyclone-prone French Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, enough to provide power to 12,000 inhabitants out of a total of 700,000.

"This is the first wind farm installed on Reunion," Jerome Billerey, head of the company, told Reuters.

But installing wind turbines on remote islands can often be complex due to poor logistics, limited port infrastructure and the hurdle of regular cyclones.

Aerowatt uses a technology invented and owned by French wind turbine manufacturer Vergnet.

In case of a cyclone alert, the turbines, which are half the weight of ordinary turbines, and have two blades instead of three, are lowered and attached to the ground in a horizontal position using a system of cabling and winching.

"This means that when a cyclone sweeps across the island it breaks everything but the turbines," Billerey said, adding that the connection to the power grid was... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

PARIS, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Wind turbines that can operate through cyclones and earthquakes are increasingly being installed on small, isolated islands that seek improved energy independence, a wind power producer said on Friday.

France's fifth largest wind power producer Aerowatt this week launched a 3.85 megawatt-wind farm on the small cyclone-prone French Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, enough to provide power to 12,000 inhabitants out of a total of 700,000.

"This is the first wind farm installed on Reunion," Jerome Billerey, head of the company, told Reuters.

But installing wind turbines on remote islands can often be complex due to poor logistics, limited port infrastructure and the hurdle of regular cyclones.

Aerowatt uses a technology invented and owned by French wind turbine manufacturer Vergnet.

In case of a cyclone alert, the turbines, which are half the weight of ordinary turbines, and have two blades instead of three, are lowered and attached to the ground in a horizontal position using a system of cabling and winching.

"This means that when a cyclone sweeps across the island it breaks everything but the turbines," Billerey said, adding that the connection to the power grid was buried underground.

He said Reunion was seeking energy independence by 2025, despite the fact that the population is expected to grow by a third in the next 20 years.

Billerey said that small isolated territories were vulnerable as oil distributors were increasingly reluctant to deliver relatively small amounts of fuel over long distances.

"Oil distributors have a tendency to privilege the most important markets because isolated territories are more expensive to deliver to," he said. "Many territories are currently close to being short of fuel stocks," he said citing the example of the Pacific ocean's Vanuatu islands.

"Energy production for these islands is very expensive because it is mainly made from oil," Billerey said, adding this made renewable energies an attractive option.

He said French power giant Electricite de France <EDF.PA> had production costs three to four times higher in the French oversees territories than in the French mainland.

Aerowatt plans to double its generation capacity in the French overseas territories in the next five years to around 110 megawatts but is postponing investment in developing countries.

"The idea would be to target those (island) markets but they remain hard to access. In countries such as Fiji or Cape Verde you have power producers which are on the verge of bankruptcy," he said.


Source: http://www.alertnet.org/the...

NOV 10 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/5726-cyclone-proof-wind-turbines-the-island-solution
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