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Availon gains foothold in Japanese wind market with EOS contract

Germany’s Availon has signed a major contract with Japanese wind turbine maintenance firm EOS Engineering and Service for the supply of 80 wind turbine grid coupling contactors.

Availon and EOS' framework agreement, signed in October last year, is a major step for turbine engineering company Availon, which is keen to increase its presence in the emerging wind markets of Asia.

Wind energy in Japan is expected to boom over the coming years, following the launch in June of the country’s first feed-in tariff. The tariff rates, some of the highest in the world, aim to encourage the development of renewables, and reduce Japan’s dependency on nuclear power and imported gas.

“Prior to the contract being signed, in-depth testing was carried ot on two grid coupling contactors which we supplied to the Japanese customer,” said Availon product manager Ralf Nuesse.

In an effort to help EOS technicians familiarise themselves with the installation of the grid coupling contactors, a team of Availon engineers travelled to Kyushu, the southern-most of Japan’s main islands to go through the installation process.

Availon designed the contactor as an upgrade for 1.5 MW wind turbines with double-fed asynchronous generators four years ago. Built to last for up to 250,000 switching cycles, the contactor takes over the regular switching processes that are normally handled by the main circuit breaker of a turbine.

After the contactors are installed the circuit breaker serves as a protection device, reducing wear and tear and extending the maintenance intervals. The contactor also reduces the risk of damage to the frequency converter if the main switch does not cut out correctly.

The company, which also offers its own turbine maintenance service, said that the grid coupling contactor option was becoming increasingly popular. “In the past years, many of our customers have opted to install grid coupling contactors in their wind turbines,” said Nuesse, citing contracts signed by the company in 2010 with Deutsche Immobilien-Leasing for 81 grid coupling contacts, and with Italy’s ENEL for 40. The ENEL-contracted contactors were installed by Availon.
 

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