Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Gaia to ship wind turbine unit to Tonga

25 Jan 2013

Glasgow-based Gaia-Wind has been appointed to supply a turbine to help Tonga Power assess the potential for the technology in the archipelago. As Tonga relies on fossil fuels such as diesel to generate power, a shift to renewable energy might allow the country to achieve big reductions in its import bills and carbon emissions.

John van Brink, chief executive of Tonga Power, said: "This project will deliver fossil-free power to the grid and, most importantly, it will be another step forward in meeting our strategic targets for renewable energy delivery". While Tonga has been developing solar power resources, the 11 kW wind turbine developed by Gaia-Wind will be the first of its kind installed in the country. It will produce enough power for a farm or family home.

The company hopes a successful trial of the turbine in Tonga could result in widespread adaptation of the technology in the kingdom. Gaia-Wind says its turbines are ideally suited for farms and rural properties, which are common on Tonga's 170 plus Islands. "Tonga is a prime example of the kind of market for 'distributed energy' for which the Gaia-Wind-wind turbine is eminently suited", said Gaia-Wind chief executive Johnnie Andringa.

The project will involve shipping the Glasgow-assembled turbine from the port of Grangemouth on the Forth to Auckland in New Zealand, via Singapore. It will make the final stage of the journey to Tonga in a smaller boat.

Asked if there was any contradiction involved in transporting a turbine so far for a renewable energy project, a spokesman for Gaia-Wind noted Tonga is in an isolated position. "They are entitled to source the most appropriate machinery for their requirements", said the spokesman, who added: "As part of that, they will have taken sustainability issues into account". Gaia-Wind beat off competition from manufacturers in the US and mainland Europe.

The company increased turnover to around £10 million in 2012, from £7.7m in 2011. Its 11kW turbines sell for around £55,000 in the UK. While the bulk of sales were in the UK last year, Gaia-Wind has exported to more than 10 countries, including the US, Canada, France and Germany. It wants to grow exports to 50% of sales.