Chinese windindustry ramps up -- Supply chain expands to meet demand

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China's industrial equipment manufacturers are ramping up capacity to meet rising demand for wind turbines. Investment is being made in component production and in research and development (R&D) of innovative concepts, including use of permanent magnet generators. The companies are focused on producing megawatt scale wind turbines with rated capacities between 1.5 MW and 5 MW.

China Northern Locomotive and Rolling Stock Industry Group (CNR) is developing what local government sources call China's largest wind power equipment production base in Jinan, in Shandong in the east. The facility, supported by the Jinan authority, is to occupy a million square metres in the city's industrial zone. The first stage of the grand plan, costing CNY 3 billion ($440 million), is annual production of 500 wind turbines, largely for sale in northeast and northwest China.

Construction of the facility for wind turbine assembly, blade production and technology research is slated to begin in June for completion by the end of the year. CNR aspires to make its facility a world-class wind manufacturing base with annual sales of CNY 10 billion ($1.5 billion) within three to five years.

In the far south, Guangxi Yinhe Avantis Wind Power Co is launching a 2.5 MW wind turbine this month, billed as the largest yet made by a domestic manufacturer. The machine, a direct-drive turbine with a permanent magnet generator, is being made in Beihai, in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The company also makes a 2 MW turbine and plans to produce a 3.3 MW model by 2011. It expects to produce 400 of each design annually. Yinhe Avantis is a joint venture between Guizhou Changzheng Electric Co and Germany's Avantis and has a market value of CNY 100 million ($14.7 million).

Megawatt turbines are also to be produced in central China in the province of Sichuan by Dongfeng Electric Engine Plant, supported by the Leshan city council. A new factory is to turn out 1500 machines a year from a 165,333 square metre facility costing CNY 280 million ($41 million). The technology for the 2.5 MW turbine comes from German drive systems company LDW.

Construction of the first stage of the factory -- buildings for assembling wind turbines and transformer sub-stations -- will start in June and end a year later. The second stage will comprise an R&D centre and factories for specialised components, to be complete by 2012. Dongfeng Electric's Hu Jianghong says the company will lead China in output of megawatt-class wind turbines, with production of 2000 units a year. It may also offer 3 MW and 5 MW turbines from 2012, depending on market conditions.

In north-east China's Tianjin City, Tianjin Jinneng Group and Mingyang Wind Power Industry Group have started building the Jinneng Mingyang Wind Power Industrial Base at the Binhai New Zone. The project, occupying a floor space of more than 333,000 square metres, will host a factory producing 1.5 MW and 3 MW wind turbines, blades and control components, as well as a wind power research institute.

Mingyang Wind Power says the facility will be its largest wind equipment production and export base, making 3 MW wind turbines with proprietary intellectual property rights. The blade workshop will launch in June and the assembly line in September. Output this year is projected at CNY 1.56 billion ($228.8 million). When the overall project is completed, it will produce 600 turbines a year with 600 blade sets, valued at CNY 7 billion ($1.03 billion), according to officials.

In eastern Jiangsu's Rudong County, Jiangsu Shengyu Wind Power Equipment Co has started a wind turbine tower project costing $24.88 million and scheduled for completion in November. It is planning to turn out 400 towers a year with a value of CNY 500 million ($73.3 million).

China is also producing gearboxes for wind turbines. Guodian United Power Technology (Baotou) Co, jointly owned by China Guodian United Power Technology Co and Inner Mongolia First Machinery Manufacturing Corporation, has been officially registered for business. From a CNY 290 million ($42.5 million) factory built on a 133,333 square metre site, the company will mainly produce gearboxes for 1.5 MW wind turbines. It expects to produce 600-800 gearboxes a year.

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