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Denmark

Denmark

Blade maker predicts slow down

The major manufacturer of rotor blades for the wind industry, Denmark's LM Glasfiber, expects to lose market share in the short term, but over the long term to retain its traditional 40% of all blades sold. Presenting its annual accounts for 2002 last month, the company reported an improvement in turnover of 6% to DKK 2889 million and profit before tax of DKK 668 million compared with DKK 539 million in 2001. The better results are mainly a result of business on the Spanish market and rationalisation of production.

In 2003 and 2004, LM is predicting that the global wind market will grow by just 10%, considerably less than the predictions of other industry members -- and only a third of the wind market growth experienced in the past five years. For 2003, the company is budgeting with a fall in turnover of 5-8% and a profit margin of 20-22%.

The drop in turnover is not a result of dwindling sales, but of expected cuts in production costs after the introduction of new technology and new blade designs, leading to a rationalised use of material and lower blade weights. LM's new 54 metre blades, soon to be on the market, will be 50% lighter than those of their competitors, says the company. Product development includes work on a 61.5 metre blade for a 5 MW turbine.

LM Glasfiber operates 11 factories in five countries, although it has just closed one of its facilities in Denmark. Reduced demand for the smaller blades made in these factories is the reason for the closures, says LM's Anders D Christensen, along with an expected stagnation of the Danish wind turbine market. Blades from LM Glasfiber are employed on turbines produced by around 20 companies, with Vestas, which makes its own blades, the most notable exception. Six companies make up around 90% of LM's market.

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