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Wichitans get VIP status at Germany wind show

Wichitans get VIP status at Germany wind show

Monday, September 20, 2010, 5:43pm CDT | Modified: Wednesday, September 22, 2010, 5:38pm

When he dialed the WBJ from Germany on Monday afternoon, Marlin Penner was operating on just four hours of sleep from the previous 48 hours.

Penner, of NAI John T. Arnold Associates Inc., is part of a delegation of local and state business leaders and economic development officials who arrived in Husum, Germany, that day to attend the Husum WindEnergy 2010 trade show. The delegation — which includes Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and officials from the governor’s office and the Kansas Department of Commerce — were invited to the conference by a German economic development group, Invest in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Invest in M-V is working on behalf of manufacturers in that region that focus in wind energy. The Kansas delegation is trying to lure some of them to the Sunflower State.

Penner, talking from his hotel room at about 10:30 p.m. in Germany, said the group within hours of its arrival had met with its German hosts, who laid out a schedule of meetings it will have with the manufactures of components for wind turbines. Those will take place Tuesday through Saturday.

“We’ve got 21 companies that have expressed interest already in meeting with us,” Penner says.

All of them are based in Germany. They include a firm that produces the cables and cable mountings for wind turbines, one that helps develop and manage wind farms, one that measures wind turbine efficiency and one that does foundation work for wind power plants.

Meanwhile, Penner says the organizers of the Husum conference granted the Kansas delegation VIP status because of the presence of the officials traveling with it, most notably Mayor Brewer and those from the state level. Penner says that gives the group the freedom to go into any session it chooses to attend during the conference.

“That’s a good thing. That definitely makes us noticed,” Penner says.

Penner had one more piece of knowledge to impart: The delegation’s hosts said more than 50 percent of the energy in the M-V region comes from renewable sources. About 10,000 megawatts, Penner says, came from wind.

To him, it points to how committed Europe has become to wind and how big of a market it is becoming — a market Wichita could tap into.

“That’s the bottom line, exactly,” he says.