In Spain a former munitions factory shifts to blade manufacturing in a joint venture project between Danish LM Glasfiber and Santa Barbara's subsidiary company, Internacional Composites (ICSA). The deal signals a higher degree of commitment to renewable energy in Spain.

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Spain's state-run Santa Barbara concern has reached an agreement with LM Glasfiber of Denmark to turn one of its failing munitions factories into a manufacturing plant for blades for wind turbines. The deal, announced last month, envisages a 50/50 partnership between Santa Barbara, its subsidiary Internacional Composites (ICSA) and LM Glassfiber, the world's largest manufacturer of wind turbine rotor blades.

According to Spain's financial newspaper, Cinco Dias, the new company, LM Toledo, has a starting capital of ESP 325 million, to be expanded to a total investment of ESP 500 million in the coming months. Jesus Redondo of Santa Barbara, says work on converting the factory outside Toledo, south of Madrid, begins this month and production would begin in March. Jose Soler, an executive with ICSA, says the initial concentration will be on blades for 300 kW turbines, although a production line would be built to accommodate manufacturing larger blades for 500 kW machines. An estimated 200 blades will be produce annually for the domestic Spanish wind market and its potential overseas customers in Latin America and North Africa. Projected annual sales revenue has been estimated at ESP 500 million.

Soler told Cinco Diasthat the decision to turn to the manufacture of blades followed the deepening crisis in munitions sales which had threatened to close the Toledo factory. Now, dozens of jobs expected to be axed this year will be saved. LM Toledo will initially employ some 32 people, 27 of them from ICSA, although this is expected to increase. The deal is seen as an achievement by environmentalists in Spain which have been urging the government for a greater commitment to renewable energy.

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