Investing heavily in the future -- Enercon confident

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Business continues to boom for German wind turbine maker Enercon, which reports revenues of EUR 1.9 billion for 2006, a 23% increase on EUR 1.54 billion in 2005 and 55% up on EUR 1.23 billion in 2004. Sales were almost equally split between its home market and exports.

Enercon installed around 1500 MW in 2006 to bring its cumulative installed capacity to 11,500 MW. Managing director Dieter Kettwig says it expects to install around 2320 MW this year, of which more than 1800 MW will be 2-2.3 MW machines, with the rest in the 800-900 kW capacity range. Enercon has targets to reach 17 GW of cumulative sales in 2008 and over 18 GW in 2009.

Enercon, like its competitors, has been hit by the rising price of raw materials, necessitating turbine price rises of 4-5%, it says. None of its suppliers has passed on the complete price increase so far, according to Enercon. "But we can't remain completely immune to developments in the raw materials and energy markets," it says. The company's priority is to sign long term supply contracts to ensure security of supply.

The company has invested heavily in expanding manufacturing capacity and improving the efficiency of its production facilities, notes senior production manager Klaus Peters. Last year it invested EUR 90 million, while this year Kettwig expects that figure to reach EUR 98 million followed by EUR 116 million in 2008. By the end of 2006 factory floor space had increased to 430,000 square metres from 337,000 square metres in 2004.

New Enercon facilities include provision for processing cast iron components and aluminium nacelle housings at its Aurich headquarters. Overseas, a new concrete tower factory is under construction in India and at Viano do Castelo in Portugal work is underway on several new component factories for production, among other things, of blades, concrete towers, and generators. From 2010, the Viano do Castelo facilities are expected to supply EUR 200 million worth of turbines annually to the Portuguese market and elsewhere.

Last month, a continuous production plant for rotor hubs was due to start at Sket in Magdeburg, Germany. Peters adds that two more sets of robotic equipment for blade surface treatment have been ordered from ABB, one for the works in Rothensee, Germany, and one for a new blade factory in Portugal.

Peters stresses there are no plans for expansion of production in Brazil this year, although a new factory in Spain still seems a possibility. Enercon's owner, Aloys Wobben, says the company is in talks with a "very large Spanish energy company, where we may also build a factory." This year the company's equity capital will be raised to EUR 900 million from EUR 780 million in 2006.

Over the next two years, the firm will focus on building up its turbine service divisions in Canada, Brazil, the UK, France, Spain and Portugal, as well as at home. Enercon was rated best in turbine service in Germany in a recent survey.

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