Kingspan Wind – one year old and world famous
10 October 2012
Kingspan Wind was established following the acquisition by the Kingspan Group of some of the assets of Proven Energy, the Scottish turbine manufacturer which collapsed after a technical fault in its latest turbine, the P35-2, exposed financial weakness in the business.
At the time, there was widespread dismay that Proven's solid designs and vastly successful smaller turbine models had been lost as a result of the firm's investment 'overstretch' on the P35-2.
So it is welcome news that the new owner of those core Proven designs is a multi-national building industry corporation, with a 2011 turnover in excess of £1.6billion, and no shortage of capital to back up its products.
In just one year, Kingspan Wind have increased deployment of the rebranded 6kW wind turbine by 200%, as well as exporting to Denmark, France, South America, Alaska and Hong Kong – Kingspan turbines are now at work in over 60 different countries.
I paid a visit to the Ayrshire base earlier this month and met up with technical sales manager, Gavin Kerr and operations manager, Richard Caldow. I was impressed by the team's facility and their organisation within it.
Gavin was quick to remind me of the turbines' successful track record: "Despite Kingspan Wind, the brand, only turning 1 year old, we have a product that can be referenced the world over with 22 years successful operation in KW6 and KW3 turbines, backed by a team with 20+ years' experience in the international small wind industry."
"Kingspan as a group has been established for over 30 years and we believe the longevity of both product and company is unique in an industry very much in its infancy. Customers can feel reassured by both the product and the company being well established and referenced the world over", explains Gavin.
Their Wardhead facility in Ayrshire is the headquarters for the Wind division focusing on manufacturing, training, technical sales, customer and installer support.
The field service team also operates from the Ayrshire facility, covering the on-site mentoring of their installer network and turbine servicing throughout the UK and the North Sea installations.
"Currently we manufacture and supply the KW6 (6kW) and KW3 (3kW) small wind turbines, although this will expand in 2013 with the launch of an extended range of wind turbines. The 6kW being our core product this year in the UK with the 3kW primarily supplied for the international market, off-shore oil platforms and telecoms applications."
So what do the Kingspan turbines offer that others don't?
"Our turbines do not require shutting down in high winds due to the unique delta rotor design, which is ultimately what makes them stand out in comparison to alternative products on the market – so we have continued generation in all wind speeds."
"In essence less is more when it comes to high energy demand turbines. There is no gearbox, so higher efficiency as well as few moving mechanical and electrical parts", says Richard.
Gavin continues "Our turbines require minimal servicing, we believe is one of the lowest servicing requirements in the market, therefore, the post-installation operational costs can be significantly less.
We also design be-spoke packages for off-grid and direct heating applications, therefore have a variety of options available to customers which enables our turbines to be installed in areas with a poor grid-infrastructure or where customers wish to reduce heating costs or reliance of diesel generators whilst still benefiting from an income from the Feed in Tariff."
The turbine's 'over-speed' protection system consists of a centrifugally regulated rotor which controls the rotational speed of the turbine.
This allows the turbine to operate in all wind speeds and maximise its output.
Kingspan's decision not to use distributors was an easy one to make when establishing the business, says Gavin.
"The purchase of a wind turbine is in most cases the second biggest investment you will ever make, after your home, which is why it is important to choose a fully approved and certified supplier and installer who has a direct relationship with the manufacturer."
"Customers want to invest in something that will last the course and particularly the 20-year duration of the Feed-in Tariff. Our KW6 has already accumulated that level of run time all over the world, therefore customers can be referenced in over 60 countries."
Windcrofting has become increasingly popular with landowners and farmers in particular, whether it be self-funded, joint venture or under the land lease offering, and Kingspan too have noticed a significant increase in this level of enquiry over the past few months.
"We believe the impending drop in the Feed-in Tariff has been the catalyst for this, whilst there is high demand for 50kW turbines, the reality is the success rate in obtaining the necessary permissions is much lower than installing multiple small scale turbines with a tower height under 20metres."
At Kingspan things never stand still, and while they continue to increase their global throughput on production and export, they promise us some exciting developments within the wind turbine range. So watch this space ...
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