PROKON chooses The Switch Drive? direct drive wind turbines

In a move to gain independence in manufacturing wind turbines, Germany-based PROKON selected The Switch as its partner for its key permanent magnet generators (PMG) and full-power converters. This marks a significant start to cooperation for both companies. For The Switch, this is the second contract with a German customer for a direct drive PMG in the power range of 3 MW. For PROKON, this opens up new market opportunities and strengthens the company’s single-source wind power park portfolio.

The agreement with The Switch for over 3 MW direct drive PMGs and 3 MW full-power converters, known as The Switch Drive™, enables PROKON to start its own turbine development and manufacturing. This fully optimized generator and converter package enables customers to get more energy from wind. The turbines will mainly be used for PROKON’s own wind farms. The optimized drive train packages will enable the company to move quickly from the start with preferred permanent magnet technology for reliability, maximized yields and high-quality power that matches the strictest international grid codes.

According to Ralf Dohmann, Managing Director of PROKON Energiesysteme GmbH, it has always been the company’s aspiration to do everything themselves. “This cooperation with The Switch marks a major milestone for PROKON to now manage the entire process from wind turbine manufacturing through to operations and maintenance,” he says.

“The opportunity of working together with PROKON on this new product design is exciting for us,” says Jukka-Pekka Mäkinen, President and CEO of The Switch. “Based on our extensive expertise with PMG, we will be bringing a third generation direct drive PMG with first-class technical features and manufacturability to the market. We have also been able to solve the logistical challenges despite the large size of the machine.’

Mäkinen continues: “Germany’s recent decision to withdraw from the use of nuclear power and to partly replace it with wind power has been a brave move, but one that PROKON has recognized some time ago. It is also a move that should benefit Finnish wind power component suppliers. That’s why we’re especially pleased to cooperate with PROKON, which is a strong local German player. We feel they will make a great partner for us and this deal is a great opening for us.”

PROKON is one of Germany’s leading new energy companies with over 15 years of experience from developing, financing and managing wind farms. To date, the company has installed 266 wind turbines in 37 wind farms in six different German federal states as well as in neighboring Poland, where the first PROKON wind farm is due to start up this year. Once equipped with complete manufacturing capability, the company plans to expand to other new markets in Northern Europe, including Finland.

Collaboration to go to new markets together

PROKON was in contact with The Switch for the first time in 2009. During the actual tendering process, three companies were considered. The Switch proposal best matched the vision of PROKON’s turbine development team.

“Being able to meet our tough delivery schedule was the deciding factor,” Dohmann says. “The Switch offered the flexibility to be ready with prototypes in July 2012. In fact, they had already developed a rough version of the product we wanted, which helps decrease development time and enable faster delivery. In addition, we highly value the company’s experience with permanent magnet generators.”

PROKON also appreciated the willingness of The Switch to work in close partnership, so that the two companies can enter new markets together. “We hope to be able to also offer The Switch greater access to the European markets as we grow,” Dohmann continues.

With more than 870 employees, the PROKON Group is active in developing projects for the wind energy sector. Established in 1995, PROKON has installed 266 wind turbines in 37 wind farm plants. The turbines have a total power of more than 417 MW and have already produced over 4 billion kWh of electric power. Furthermore, PROKON is well established as a provider of ecological investments with profit-sharing rights. More than 35,000 customers have invested EUR 590 million to date. Since 2006, the yearly interest rate for the profit-sharing rights was 8%; from 2003 through 2005, it reached 7.25% per year. Another business area comprises the production and use of biogenic fuels. Here, PROKON is majority shareholder of the PROKON Bio-Ölwerk Magdeburg GmbH, one of the biggest bio diesel producers in Germany. Cooperating with Holzindustrie Torgau OHG, PROKON extends its scope of activities to the sustainable use of the renewable resource wood. In addition to the responsible use of timber f! or the production of wooden pallets, PROKON focuses on the complete utilization of sawing waste, wood residue and bark.

The Switch is a leading supplier of megawatt-class permanent magnet generator and full-power converter packages that effectively capture power from highly variable new energy sources like wind energy and solar power. The technology ensures reliable, future-proof grid compliance and maximized energy yields. Since starting operations in July 2006, The Switch has reached net sales of EUR 134.6 million, with nearly 5,000 MW of installed wind power capacity. The Switch is headquartered in Vantaa, Finland.