Blade company feels the pressure

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The downsizing of the wind industry in Denmark continues. The latest to make cuts is blade maker LM Glasfiber. With the dismissal of 450 workers and the closure of the fourth of its 11 facilities within one year, LM Glasfiber joins Vestas and Nordex in reducing its Danish production capacity. Vestas has recently fired 195 workers and Nordex has closed its manufacturing plant in Denmark (Windpower Monthly, March 2003).

LM director Anders Christensen puts the major blame for the dismissals on the usual seasonal fluctuations in the wind industry, as does Vestas. But LM is also feeling the pressure from competitors intent on taking a share of LM's 40% of the blade market -- a percentage the company still aims to retain. Demand is also for fewer blades as wind turbines get larger and are able to produce more power at less cost.

Bonus, previously a major LM customer, this year intends to equip 90% of the 200 MW going to Danish customers, mostly offshore, with its own blades. More than half of Bonus's turbines, at one time totally reliant on LM blades, are today supplied with blades from its own blade production facility in Aalborg in northern Denmark. Nordex and NEG Micon have made their own blades for several years and are stepping up production, while Vestas has done so for more than a decade. The world's third largest wind turbine supplier, German Enercon, also makes its own blades, or uses other suppliers.

In addition, LM now has several competitors, among them German NOI, which has been steadily ramping up production for the past two years and newcomer Umoe in Norway, which is starting to supply REpower Systems of Germany (Windpower Monthly, March 2003).

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