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Wind Business: From chemicals to wind energy - Indian 2 MW newcomer

Indian wind turbine manufacturer Suzlon is to get a new rival on its home market.

AMSC Windtec, an Austrian wind engineering firm owned by American Superconductor Corp (AMSC), has granted Inox Wind Ltd, part of India's Inox group of chemical companies, an exclusive license for the design of a 2 MW wind turbine. The agreement, the latest in a series of licence deals by AMSC, allows Inox to manufacture and market the turbines globally.

Inox subsidiary Gujarat Fluorochemicals (GFL) is already the largest seller of carbon credits in India on the back of its activities in sustainable development. Wind power is the next step, says Inox. Publicly traded AMSC, which makes products for the power industry, sees the deal providing access to the Indian wind and electricity grid equipment markets.

Inox has paid AMSC an upfront licence fee and will pay royalties up to an undisclosed number of turbines. It says AMSC Windtec will help Inox build a factory for wind turbine assembly in northern India, but declines to reveal an exact location. Inox will also partner with an unidentified German firm on both blade and tower manufacture in the north-western state of Gujarat. Construction of both blade and tower factories will begin in December for around $85 million. Inox is also looking to sell turbines into Europe and North America, says Inox Wind's Devansh Jain.

A prototype turbine is expected to begin operation by March 2010, during Gujarat's high wind season. It will use a conventional, doubly fed induction generator. Inox expects serial production to start by mid-2010 and complete 200 units by year-end and reach 400 the following year.

Own developer

The Inox group will build 200 MW of wind capacity to cover its own electricity consumption, using the AMSC Windtec design. A first phase of construction is planned for Gujarat and Rajasthan, while in the south, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and possibly Kerala are earmarked, too. Inox is considering more wind plant later in Maharashtra, Orissa and Haryana.

The company has already installed 55 MW of wind turbines to power its factories in Rajasthan and in Maharashtra in west-central India. The company says it will eventually install 1 GW over the next five years, with most of the electricity produced covering GLS' consumption. When state policy allows for it, any generation beyond its its needs will be sold to third parties. Inox Wind is planning $2 billion of investment in the next two years, financed by external borrowing and internal revenues.

For its part, AMSC is still learning how to profit from its growing revenues. It posted a net loss of $16.6 million for the fiscal year through March, although in the last three months of that year achieved its first-ever quarterly profit. It sees the Indian wind market as key to its licensing strategy. The Inox licence is the second granted by AMSC Windtec to an Indian company. The first went to Ghodawat Industries for a 1.65 MW machine for sale in India, certain countries in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa (Windpower Monthly, May 2008). Production of the Ghodowat turbine is slated to begin this year.

Since buying Windtec in 2007, AMSC has signed deals with manufacturers from Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Korea and Taiwan (Windpower Monthly, November 2008). "Our objectives are to align Windtec with companies that we think will be aggressive and successful, and minimise competition among our customers," says AMSC Windtec's Juergen Jesenko.

Inox and Ghodawat are approaching the market with different strategies, reducing the likelihood of overlap in their markets, he says. "In any case, the opportunity in India is substantial, and the market can support multiple domestic wind turbine manufacturers."

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