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Gaia to ship wind turbine unit to Tonga

A Scottish wind-power specialist will ship one of its turbines about 10,000 miles to the Kingdom of Tonga after winning an order to supply renewable energy-generating technology to the South Pacific state.

ORDER: Gaia-Wind says its turbines, manufactured at its Glasgow base, are ideal for rural properties, such as those on Tonga's islands.  Picture:  Colin Mearns
ORDER: Gaia-Wind says its turbines, manufactured at its Glasgow base, are ideal for rural properties, such as those on Tonga's islands. Picture: Colin Mearns

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 kilowatt wind turbine developed by Gaia 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 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 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 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 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.

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