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Germans share Brazilian market

Brazil's Proinfa support program has created a market dominated by just one supplier -- Wobben Windpower, the Brazilian arm of German wind turbine manufacturer Enercon, owned by Alloys Wobben. At least some project developers say they are unable to get turbines when they require them (Windpower Monthly, July 2005). But Enercon is to get a competitor in the shape of another German wind turbine maker, the much smaller Fuhrländer.

By insisting that 60% of all wind farm equipment be manufactured locally, Brazil's Proinfa support program has created a market dominated by just one supplier -- Wobben Windpower, the Brazilian arm of German wind turbine manufacturer Enercon, owned by Alloys Wobben. At least some project developers say they are unable to get turbines when they require them (Windpower Monthly, July 2005). But Enercon is to get a competitor in the shape of another German wind turbine maker, the much smaller Fuhrländer.

While most manufacturers have declined to set up shop in a country with no long term wind market beyond Proinfa, Fuhrländer is investing BRL 12 million ($5.4 million) in a manufacturing facility on a 16 hectare site in Ceará, near Fortaleza, in Brazil's windy Northeast. "We expect to start production in March or May depending on the speed of construction," says company president Joachim Fuhrländer.

Production will start with 1 MW turbines, extending to 1.5 MW units in 2007 and 2.5 MW machines in 2008. The family-owned company will also make components such as blades by the end of 2006.

"The company has 466 MW under contract," says Fuhrländer. "We expect to have a capacity of 65 MW next year, with 208 MW in 2007 and 300 MW in 2008." So far Fuhrländer claims to have four Brazilian clients and four local and international investors. "We are not here for a one night stand," says Fuhrländer. "We will start a training and educational facility for over 200 young people aged 14-18 years." The new factory will also create 400 jobs.

Despite Enercon's ten year head-start, Fuhrländer believes the Brazilian wind power market will be big enough for the both of them. With 54 wind projects with a combined capacity of 1244 MW contracted under Proinfa, "I believe the cake is big enough to be shared," says Fuhrländer.

Wobben Windpower has been serving the Brazilian market since 1995 from a factory at Sorocaba in São Paulo, which also produces components for export. Wobben Windpower's Pedro Angelo Vial told local media that exports are expected to dropto 20% of production this year from 80% in 2004. The company estimates that is has more than doubled turnover from BRL 90 million ($41 million) in 2004 to BRL 200 million ($91 million) in 2005.

Wobben is confident of its ability to meet demand. "Our production capacity is sufficient for our present and future potential contracts under Proinfa law," says Renata Lellis, Wobben's marketing manager.

Wobben has been expanding its operations and recently announced new factories in the north-east and south of Brazil to produce concrete towers. "We are producing blades, towers and generators in our factories at Pecém [north-east Brazil], Sorocaba and at Gravataí [Rio Grande do Sul]," Lellis says. Wobben has invested a total of $80 million in Brazil, according to local newspaper reports. The company is supplying the Água Doce (9 MW), RN Rio do Fogo (49.3 MW), and Osório (50 MW) wind farms already under construction as part of Proinfa.

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