Nordex opens Arkansas wind turbine facility

Nordex USA's new wind turbine plant in Jonesboro, Ark., will build nacelles for 2.5-MW turbines exclusively for delivery to U.S. locations.

Nordex USA (Chicago, Ill., USA) on Oct. 29 celebrated the official opening of its flagship wind turbine manufacturing plant in Jonesboro, Ark., USA. Representing a $40 million investment, the 150,000-ft²/13,935m² plant is reportedly one of the most modern production facilities in the wind industry, optimized for lean flow and reduced lead times for customers.

"There's no way around it," said Thomas Richterich, CEO of parent company Nordex SE. "To play in the U.S. wind market, you need a made-in-the-USA strategy. Our turbines are some of the most powerful and reliable on the global market, and now we can get them to U.S. wind farms quickly and cost-effectively."

Governor Mike Beebe and Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln joined with state and community leaders for the event, following a tour of the plant. The total planned investment for the site is $100 million, with further manufacturing capacity to be added in a second phase in line with market conditions.

The Nordex plant will build nacelles for 2.5-MW turbines that belong to Nordex' new third generation efficiency class — the Gamma generation. Production began earlier this month, and the first assembled nacelle was on display. Assembly time for a nacelle is about two weeks, and the Nordex plant has the capacity to produce 300 per year. One Nordex turbine can power about 700 American homes.

"Energy is one of the biggest challenges facing the world today, including the United States," said Ralf Sigrist, president and CEO of Nordex USA. "These turbines will help America secure a new domestic energy supply without compromising national security or the environment."

Since breaking ground on the plant last September, Nordex has hired 54 employees, about 80 percent locals, including the first production crew. Job functions range from production assembly, process engineering, supply chain management, facilities management, training, quality assurance, safety, administration and management.

Nordex has also built a training academy on site, and has a partnership withArkansas State University to teach "mechatronic" skills, which combine mechanical and electrical know-how and are specific to wind-turbine manufacturing. 

Nordex has both completed and planned installations in several states, including Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Maryland and Colorado.