Joint venture for production in Italy

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Italy's Wind Energy Systems Taranto (WEST) and Vestas Wind Systems of Denmark have set up a 50/50 joint venture to manufacture Vestas wind turbines in Italy. The new company is called Italian Wind Technology (IWT) and is based at WEST's facilities in Taranto. The decision to manufacture turbines in Italy was announced by Vestas at the same time as the company clinched its third order for the Italian market within the past few months, this time for 90, 600 kW turbines.

The driving force behind the current spate of wind energy activity in Italy is Italian Vento Power Corporation (IVPC). This year it is installing 110 MW of Vestas turbines -- about 175 machines -- at three sites in south central Italy between Naples and Foggia. The company -- backed by American and Japanese interests -- installed 60 MW between 1995 and 1997. IVPC has designs on well over half of the 700 MW of wind power contracts being subsidised by the Italian government (Windpower Monthly, December 1997).

"Future expectations for the Italian market prompted the decision to establish a new company," states Vestas. "We think that by establishing local production in Italy the competitiveness of Vestas technology will be further improved," adds director Johannes Poulsen. The most recent order from IVPC is for a 54 MW wind farm known as the Molinar Ridge Project.

Vestas and WEST have had a "close relationship" over the past two years, says the Danish company, which is satisfied that IWT will be able to meet quality demands. Employment at IWT is expected to reach 80 by the end of the year. "The activities will initially be production of blades and assembly of turbines using components supplied by Vestas in Denmark," says Poulsen. "However, as we find and develop qualified and competitive suppliers, the local content will increase further."

WEST was founded in 1989 by the huge Alenia conglomerate and is part of the Finmeccanica Group. At that time it was developing and manufacturing a 320 kW turbine, the Medit 320, intended for commercial sale and the huge, twin-blade Gamma 60 1.5 MW turbine, a government and EU sponsored project later installed on Sardinia. WEST's focus on megawatt turbine development is to continue, according to Vestas.

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