Blade firm reports growth and profit -- Wind tunnel and new profiles

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With a profit of EUR 3 million in the first three months of 2005 compared with a deficit of the same size in the same quarter last year, LM Glasfiber's 47% improvement in turnover has made its mark on the bottom line. Turnover in the first quarter was EUR 79 million.

The boost to LM's business has mainly come from markets in North America and Asia, says the company, which has orders in hand for seven months of production, the same as it had at this time last year. LM retains its projection for 2005 of a 5-10% increase in turnover in a market it expects will grow by at least 25%. Lack of production capacity in the US is preventing it keeping pace with market growth, says the company, which has started construction on a new blade facility in Quebec (Windpower Monthly, April 2005).

On the technology front, LM is to develop its own blade profiles. Until now, the wind industry has been almost exclusively reliant on profiles developed for the aeronautical industry -- designed for keeping airplanes in the sky rather than efficiently capturing energy from the wind. In future, LM expects to base new blades at least partially on its own profiles, says company CEO Anders D Christensen, who adds that development of site specific profiles is not out of the question.

Testing of new blades and blade shapes will be speeded up considerably once the company completes construction in Denmark of a EUR 3.4 million wind tunnel, described as "the world's most advanced tunnel for testing turbine rotor blade aerodynamics." It is not a full scale facility, but can test blades in sections, says Christensen. "In the past we had to do the modification in the field. It took a lot of time and was weather dependent. Now we can do it in a wind tunnel," he says. Improved aerodynamics holds potential for knocking 2-5% off the price of a kilowatt hour of wind, according to Christensen. The wind tunnel should be operating by next year.

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