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United States

Coastal location for offshore market -- Second Wisconsin tower maker

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Another company in Wisconsin hoping to capture a share of the wind turbine tower market was to open its doors for business last month -- at a prime location for supplying monopile foundations for offshore wind development. Paul Miller of Tower Tech Systems Inc (TTSI) says the company is gearing up to make the conical structures needed for land and offshore turbine towers at a former boatyard.

Miller believes TTSI, the second tower manufacturer to choose Wisconsin as a base after Global Energy Systems (Windpower Monthly, May 2004), will have an edge on the American offshore wind market due to its location in Manitowoc on a deepwater channel that connects with Lake Michigan.

"Monopiles can't be transported in segments like a turbine," he says. "Although they aren't long, they're heavy [about 450 tons] and have to be shipped intact. You can only do that via water. There is no overland solution."

Availability of a direct route to the Atlantic Ocean -- and potential offshore sites such as that at Long Island -- via Lake Michigan and the St. Lawrence Seaway will probably make TTSI's transport costs lower than other monopile manufacturers, he says. Also contributing to lower costs is the automated and semi-automated manufacturing equipment the company is installing.

Getting orders is not the biggest challenge, not compared with getting hold of raw materials in a global steel market that Miller describes as "chaotic." He sees potential contracts with several major turbine manufacturers and infers a conversation with Gamesa and Navitas about a potential 250 MW Wisconsin development. TTSI has set a production goal of 300 turbine towers in the 80 to 120 meter range this year.

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