Wind Energy Industry Suppliers Invest in U.S. Market

Following a year of unprecedented growth in the U.S. wind energy market, several key suppliers of wind turbines and turbine-related composite components wrapped up 2007 with announcements of major expansions on U.S. soil. Vestas Wind Systems A/S (Randers, Denmark) says it will establish a new research and development

Following a year of unprecedented growth in the U.S. wind energy market, several key suppliers of wind turbines and turbine-related composite components wrapped up 2007 with announcements of major expansions on U.S. soil. Vestas Wind Systems A/S (Randers, Denmark) says it will establish a new research and development facility in the U.S. in a location to be determined but likely near a large research university. The center reportedly will be operational by 2009 and will, when fully established in 2010, employ up to 80 people.

Vestas also recently received three large orders. First, AES Corp. (Arlington, Va.) ordered 52 units of the V90-3.0 MW wind turbine. Second, RES Americas Inc. (Austin, Texas) ordered 33 units of the V90-3.0 MW wind turbine to be installed at the Central Plains Wind Farm, a 99-MW project in Wichita County between Leoti and Scott City in western Kansas. Third, China Guangdong Nuclear Group ordered 232 units of the V52-850 kW turbine for four projects in Inner Mongolia.

GE Energy (Atlanta, Ga.) announced in late November 2007 that it has signed a blade manufacturing agreement with composites manufacturer TPI Composites (Warren, R.I.). Under the agreement, TPI plans to build a new 316,000 ft² (29,360m²) facility in Newton, Iowa, that will create approximately 500 new jobs. TPI Composites has manufacturing sites in Warren, R.I., Springfield, Ohio, Juarez, Mexico, and TaiCang, China. With the Iowa expansion, the company will reach an estimated 1.1 million ft² (nearly 102,200m²) of manufacturing space in 2008. TPI reported in December 2007 that it also would open a holding company headquarters office in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Meanwhile, the Molded Fiber Glass Cos. (MFG, Ashtabula, Ohio) held a groundbreaking ceremony in late November 2007 for a new wind turbine manufacturing plant in Aberdeen, S.D., that will make blades for GE Energy’s (Atlanta, Ga.) 1.5-MW machine, one of the most widely used wind turbines in the world.

The new facility will be owned by the local Aberdeen Development Corp. and leased and operated by MFG, representing a $40 million (USD) investment. The facility also will enable MFG to increase the volume of wind turbine blade sets it supplies to GE Energy, starting in 2008.

“GE currently has more than 6,500 1.5-MW wind turbines in operation worldwide. By the end of 2008, we expect that number to exceed 10,000 units,” says Victor Abate, VP-renewables for GE Energy. “The new MFG facility in Aberdeen will significantly increase the manufacturing capacity of our supply chain as we continue to face strong demand for wind turbines in the U.S. and worldwide.”

GE Energy recently has announced agreements totaling nearly $1.5 billion to supply wind turbines for projects in the U.S. and Europe that represent more than 1 GW of new wind power capacity.