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Another flood of turbine orders -- Tying up the supply line

Wind project developers in America ordered a further 2000 MW of turbines last month from three vendors following orders announced in May for 1900 MW. Again it was Indian company Suzlon and Japanese Mitsubishi that scored, though this time the third member of the trio was not GE Energy but a relative newcomer to the US market, Spain's Acciona Windpower.

Leading the charge, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) received orders from four major US developers for a total of 664 units with a combined capacity of 1066 MW, not far off the entire wind capacity in its home country of Japan, which lies 13th in the international wind market rankings. The orders were all placed through Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas.

Projects in four states

The largest, for 169 MHI 2.4 MW turbines (405.6 MW), came from PPM Energy, now part of Spanish Iberdrola following Iberdrola's merger with PPM's former owner, ScottishPower. While final destinations for the turbines are flexible, four PPM projects in late term development may receive some of these units. The largest of the four is the first 200 MW phase of the Penescal project in Texas near Sarita, close to the coast and across from Padre Island, and is expected to break ground next year. In California, there is the 45 MW Dillon development in Riverside County outside Los Angeles. Also making headway in the notoriously difficult Northeast, PPM plans to install up to 34 MW in Vermont close to the existing 6 MW Searsburg plant and another 30 MW at Hoosac in the west of neighbouring Massachusetts.

Beyond PPM's slice of the Mitsubishi units, Babcock & Brown chose 118 of the same units (283.2 MW), while Airtricity opted for the MHI 1 MW, ordering 197 of them, as did the American division of Japanese wind investor Eurus Energy, which secured 180 MW. Delivery of the turbines will begin this year and continue well through 2009. The barrage of contracts squares Mitsubishi's recent announcement that it is tripling annual production capacity to 1200 MW (Windpower Monthly, May 2007).

Suzlon too

California's Edison Mission Group demonstrated last month that its appetite for wind turbines is not restricted to Mitsubishi, with which it placed a 398 MW order in May for the MHI 2.4 MW unit. In June, the company ordered 300 Suzlon 2.1 MW turbines, making it the Indian company's largest customer. The 630 MW is scheduled for delivery in 2008 and 2009 in two 315 MW phases. Edison Mission declines to say which of its projects the Mitsubishi or Suzlon machines are headed for since ground breaking has yet to start on any of them. The company has a close relationship with Mitsubishi, which supplied the machines for its 120 MW New Mexico project in 2005 and is also supplying 80 MW for an anticipated development in Texas, says Mitsubishi. Edison Mission says it has more than 600 MW of wind power in operation or under construction in five states.

Montana

Bringing the order tally for last month up to 1996 MW, Acciona Windpower will supply 200 of its 1.5 MW turbines to Naturener, a US company with Spanish roots and Belgian backing, based in San Francisco. The turbines are destined for the McCormick Ranch wind plant in Montana. It was originally developed at a proposed 120 MW by Montana-based Great Plains Wind & Energy. That company was recently scooped up by Naturener, which expanded the original project to 300 MW.

Behind Naturener are the Belgian Sapec group (through Tharsis) and Spanish Caja Castilla La Mancha Corporación, a semi-public regional savings bank. The Spanish end of Naturener is based in Castilla La Mancha, where Acciona's wind division is by far the dominant wind developer. In North America, Naturener says it is developing a total of 1800 MW of potential wind projects in Montana and the Canadian province of Alberta, including the near term Montana project.

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