Northern Power Systems' (NPS) turbines are being made in Brazil by the US company’s strategic partner WEG Equipamentos Elétricos SA and WEG is expected to sell them elsewhere in South America. NPS — a small pure-play turbine manufacturer — is also looking for strategic manufacturing partners in Europe and Asia, said CEO and president Troy Patton, who was visiting India in the second week of December. "But [getting more strategic partners] is going to take some time, especially in this market," he said.
Starting in 2013, NPS transferred its 2-2.3MW permanent magnet direct drive (PMDD) technology to WEG, a multi-billion dollar global manufacturer that once made generators for Zond Corp, the California company whose wind turbine technology was ultimately bought by GE. WEG is also a contract manufacturer for NPS — of generators, hub and nacelles — and is experienced in manufacturing for the transmission and distribution sector.
"They wanted to jump back into wind," Patton said of the collaboration with WEG. "And we were looking to growth markets, and Brazil is clearly one of those." He added that there was virtually no competition for PMDD turbines in Brazil, except from Argentina’s Impsa, which went bankrupt in Brazil. According to a source, WEG has now manufactured more than 100 of the 2-2.3MW NPS turbines.
NPS and WEG have also collaborated on a 3.3MW PMDD machine tailored for Brazil’s high winds and for WEG’s manufacturing capabilities. Licensed by NPS, the turbine is in the design phase, components have been tested in Brazil, and commercial roll-out is expected in 2017. The development of the larger turbine is part of an agreement between WEG and Tractebel Energia.
NPS had previously licensed its technology in one other case — non-exclusively to China First Heavy Industries for offshore use. NPS, based in Vermont, has deployed more than 500 of its smaller NPS 60 and NPS 100 turbines with 10 million-plus run hours globally. Its order backlog on September 30, 2015 was approximately $36 million, compared with $47 million a year earlier.