In 2003 and 2004, LM is predicting that the global wind market will grow by just 10%, considerably less than the predictions of other industry members -- and only a third of the wind market growth experienced in the past five years. For 2003, the company is budgeting with a fall in turnover of 5-8% and a profit margin of 20-22%.
The drop in turnover is not a result of dwindling sales, but of expected cuts in production costs after the introduction of new technology and new blade designs, leading to a rationalised use of material and lower blade weights. LM's new 54 metre blades, soon to be on the market, will be 50% lighter than those of their competitors, says the company. Product development includes work on a 61.5 metre blade for a 5 MW turbine.
LM Glasfiber operates 11 factories in five countries, although it has just closed one of its facilities in Denmark. Reduced demand for the smaller blades made in these factories is the reason for the closures, says LM's Anders D Christensen, along with an expected stagnation of the Danish wind turbine market. Blades from LM Glasfiber are employed on turbines produced by around 20 companies, with Vestas, which makes its own blades, the most notable exception. Six companies make up around 90% of LM's market.