Blade manufacturers expand to meet demand
Unprecedented growth in the wind energy market has necessitated a significant need for the manufacture of rotor blades, particularly in locales near developing wind farms. The following are only a representative portion of the recent and ongoing expansion activities intended to meet near-term needs:
Vestas Wind Systems A/S (Randers, Denmark) expanded the production capacity of its blade factory in Tainjin, China to accommodate up to 1,200 units per year. Further, new plants were built in Spain and the U.S. (Windsor, Colo.), both of which are expected to be operational this year.
GE Energy (Schenectady, N.Y.), which supplied about 30 percent of the new capacity installed in the U.S. last year, has signed production agreements with TPI Composites (Warren, R.I.) and Molded Fiber Glass Companies (Ashtabula, Ohio) to produce blades for the company’s popular 1.5 MW turbines. GE expects to deliver nearly 2,000 of these turbines to customers this year.
Gamesa (Madrid, Spain), which meets about 92 percent of its blade production requirements in-house, will bring online seven new production lines by the end of this year — four in the U.S., two in Spain, and the other in China. The U.S. facilities include two production lines for G87 and G90 turbines in Ebensburg, Pa. A second set of G80 and G83 blade production lines were added to the two existing lines at the company’s new Philadelphia, Pa. factory.
Enercon GmbH (Aurich, Germany) recently began deliveries of blades from its Viana do Castelo, Portugal complex. The facility is expected to produce 500 blades this year, with the potential to expand production up to 650 blades with a third production shift.
India’s Suzlon Wind Energy Corp. (Maharashtra, Pune, India) brought online an additional 1,200 MW of production capacity during the year — with blade production occurring at three facilities in India, 600 MW of capacity in the U.S. (Minnesota), and another 600 MW of capacity in Tianjin, China.
REpower Systems AG (Hamburg, Germany) formed a joint venture with Abeking & Rasmussen ROTEC GmbH (Lemwerder, Germany), called PowerBlades GmbH. Blade production is expected to begin in the second quarter this year in a facility being built strategically close to REpower’s manufacturing plant for its 5-MW 5M turbine in Bremerhaven, Germany.
Sinoi GmbH (formerly known as NOI Rotortechnik, Nordhausen, Germany), late last year signed a collaborative deal with aerodyn Energiesysteme GmbH (Rendsburg, Germany) to manufacture the latter’s aeroBlade designs. The “highly aerodynamically efficient” family of rotor blades is rated for turbines with 1.5 MW to 2.5 MW of generating capacity and range in size from 34m to 50.3m (112 ft to 164 ft) in length. Production will be done at Sinoi’s 195,00m² (2.1 million ft²) campus, which houses not only blade production but prepreg-processing, mold-building, and composites-training operations.