GE Wind Turbines Head to Austria

Facing a lull in the U.S. wind energy market due to a lack of government support, GE Energy is among the many renewable energy companies looking abroad for business. The company’s latest foray is in Austria where GE Energy will be providing its workhorse 1.5 MW commercial wind turbines.

Atlanta, Georgia – September 24, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] A groundbreaking ceremony was held in Parndorf, Austria to kick off the new project. Eight of these machines will be installed for the oekostrompark Parndorf II (Parndorf II wind park), located in the state of Burgenland, southeast of Vienna. The new wind park should be connected to the grid by December of 2004. The project is located near Lake Neusiedl in the Pannonische Tiefebene, a flat area in eastern Austria and western Hungary known for its strong wind conditions. Five wind turbines already are operating at the nearby Parndorf I wind park. Principal owner of both Parndorf wind parks is oekostrom AG Energieproduktion- und Beteiligungs GmbH, an energy production and joint stock company that is actively supporting preservation of the environment by constructing a decentralized network of renewable energy projects. Also owning shares of the wind park are Stadtwerke Hartberg, a municipal utility, and Greenpeace Energy. The Parndorf II project’s estimated generation is 27.2 million kWh a year. The power will be sold directly by oekostrom AG to 5,000 green energy customers in Austria. The regional utility, Burgenlýndische Elektrizitýtswerke AG (BEWAG), will provide the grid connection. As part of its Renewable Energy Act of 2003, the Austrian government is supporting wind energy projects by guaranteeing a 7.8 Euro-cent/kWh energy feed-in tariff for 13 years. This is a considerably more generous incentive compared to the U.S. Federal government support for wind power that has historically existed primarily in the form of a 1.8 cents per kWh tax credit. That tax credit, known as the PTC (production tax credit) was allowed to expire by the U.S. Congress, leading to a major downturn in project construction in the U.S. GE Energy appears to have been increasingly targeting overseas projects to make up for the domestic lull. “We are very pleased to support Austria’s on-going efforts to increase its supply of clean, renewable energy,” said Steve Zwolinski, president of GE Energy’s wind operations. “The country is enjoying one of the fastest growth rates for wind power in Europe.” Austria installed 276 MW of new wind power capacity during 2003, the third highest new capacity total in Europe. This more than doubled the country’s installed wind energy capacity to a total of 415 MW, reports the European Wind Energy Association, or enough wind power to meet the annual requirements of about 250,000 Austrian homes. According to BTM Consult, a Danish consulting firm, Austria’s wind power capacity is expected to increase to 1,515 MW by the end of 2008. The GE 1.5 MW wind turbines for the oekostrompark Parndorf II project will be assembled at GE Energy’s facilities in Salzbergen, Germany.

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