Chinese turbine maker enters Irish project

Aug. 17, 2011 at 6:22 AM
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DUBLIN, Ireland, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Chinese wind turbine maker XEMC Group has forged a strategic partnership with Irish renewables firm Gaelectric Holdings, the companies announced this week.

Under the deal, Gaelectric will work with XEMC to develop three onshore wind farms in Ireland totaling 13.6 megawatts, worth a combined $26 million, Gaelectric Chief Executive Brendan McGrath told reporters at a Monday signing ceremony in Dublin.

"With the backing of XEMC's industrial strength and technological capacity and their track record and commitment to long term relationships, we are confident that Gaelectric's portfolio of wind farm sites will be realized to the highest commercial and technical standards," he said.

The deal marks the European debut of turbines made by the state owned XEMC Group of Hunan, China, which says it has 820 of its XE series direct-drive, permanent magnet generator, or PMG, wind turbines installed in China.

Another key element of the deal, McGrath said, is that XEMC will co-develop Gaelectric's remaining wind energy projects in Ireland and the United States.

Initially, the agreement covers three onshore farms at Roosky in County Roscommon, Leabeg in County Offaly and Crowinstown in Westmeath, Ireland, the companies said.

McGrath said his March visit to China satisfied him that XEMC had a sufficient commitment to research and development, which "combines Dutch engineering design and pedigree with Chinese industrial power."

Together, he said, the companies "share a vision for the significant opportunities from offshore wind energy generation on which we are already working closely together."

"Gaelectric's pipeline of wind farm projects in key locations in Ireland and the U.S., combined with our shared focus on innovation in renewable energy technologies, makes us ideal allies in co-developing Gaelectric's portfolio of renewable power projects," XEMC Group Chairman Zhou Jianxiong told reporters.

The Irish Industrial Development Agency called the XEMC-Gaelectric partnership an important development in the history of Chinese-Irish business cooperation, the Irish technology news Web site reported.

It said XEMC is putting its research and development emphasis on its PMG technology -- a prototype of its new 5-megawatt turbine has been installed at a test center in the Netherlands.

Gaelectric, established in 2004, has assets and projects under development in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and North America, including up to 3,000 megawatts of wind power projects in the U.S. state of Montana. The company says the first of its farms there, a 430-megawatt effort, is to be commissioned in 2014 or 2015.

Gaelectric announced in March it had secured planning approval for 42-megwatt wind farm at Dunbeg in Northern Ireland's County Derry, which it built for $98 million.

It called Dunbeg "one of the most significant wind farm developments on the island of Ireland," generating enough renewable power to meet the electricity demand of 24,000 homes.

The big wind farm will consist of 14 wind turbines with a maximum hub height of 260 feet and a maximum blade diameter of 295 feet, the company said.

The project had initially been quashed by the Northern Ireland Planning Service because Dunbeg, between Coleraine and Limavady, Northern Ireland, was designated as a scenic preserve, The Irish Times reported.

But an appellate commission subsequently overruled the planning shouldn't stand in the way of green energy projects, the newspaper said.

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