Manufacturing start up in Brazil -- German-Argentinean turbines

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The inauguration of Brazil's second wind turbine factory was attended by none other than the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. She was there to lend support to the factory's founder, Argentine engineering and construction company Impsa, which has chosen the port of Suape in Brazil's northern state of Pernambuco, as the location for production of a 1.5 MW turbine under a technology licence agreement with German wind turbine designer Vensys. The only other wind turbine manufacture in Brazil is by Wobben Windpower, an offshoot of leading German wind company Enercon.

Impsa, which is controlled by the Pescarmona Group, invested BRL 145 million (EUR 57 million) in the 13,000 square metre factory. According to Impsa Wind CEO Luis Pescarmona, once the factory is fully operational in 18 months it will produce 200 turbines a year. The volume may be raised to 300, depending on demand. LM Glasfiber and Chinese-German venture Sinoi GmbH will ship blades from Germany, while local manufacturers Icec, Intecnial and Brasilsat will supply towers.

The Vensys is a relatively unusual turbine, with a permanent magnet generator driven directly by the rotor without the intermediary of a gearbox. Vensys has also licensed its design to China's Goldwind, Eozen in Spain, to Vector in Canada and to EKD in the Czech Republic. Vensys was founded in 2000 by a group of wind engineers at the University of Saarbrücken.

Quick access

Impsa's choice of factory location and turbine is intended to give it quick access to the promising Brazilian market. Pescarmona is pouring BRL 2.6 billion (EUR 1 billion) into wind plants across Brazil over the next three years, it says. Wind power has been slower to take off in neighbouring Argentina, where Impsa has agreed with government officials in the La Rioja province to set up a 25 MW wind farm by 2010 in the region of Arauco.

In Brazil, the first 66 Impsa turbines will be erected in three projects in the north-eastern state of Ceará. The most advanced is the 28.8 MW Praias de Parajurú plant, scheduled to begin operation in December. A 42.3 MW project at Volta do Rio and 28.8 MW at Praia do Morango should begin operation in the first quarter of 2009. Impsa expects a further 145 wind turbines to be delivered to Santa Catarina during 2009, when construction will begin on the 125 MW Água Doce park and the 92 MW Bom Jardim da Serra wind farm.

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