LM to establish South African factory

SOUTH AFRICA: LM Wind Power is to open a factory in South Africa to manufacture blades for the country's growing wind market.

LM has manufacturing facilities in China

In 2011, LM signed a cooperation agreement with South African project financing company Industrial Development Corporation to jointly work to establish local manufacturing of blades.

The company has now said that since it has secured interest from customers in the country it is going ahead with securing a suitable site for the factory.

LM said that it believes the new facility will reduce costs for wind turbine manufacturers, while also helping it to meet the stringent local content and local employment quotas for South African projects.

The government has indicated that it wants to add about 500-600MW of installed capacity per year over the next two decades and has recently launched tenders for wind projects. The auctions call for increased local content percentages.

"The development in South Africa coupled with increased local content requirements have the potential to drive the development of a local wind energy supply chain," said LM vice president sales and marketing Soren Hoffer.

Concerns have been raised by other manufacturers and developers that the South African industry is not yet set up for local production, due to a lack of suitably trained workers.

Any company setting up in the country will have to employ a minimum of 30% black South African workers. Overall, 50% of the workers must be South African.

The factory, which LM claims will employ 300 people when fully operational, will use the same modular factory concept used in the company's factories in the US, Poland, China and Brazil.