China's Sinovel places biggest order yet for American wind turbine control electronics

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American Superconductor (AMSC) continues to push its turbine manufacturing model into China, announcing a $70 million order for electrical systems from Beijing-based Sinovel Wind Corporation. The deal calls for AMSC's wholly-owned subsidiary, AMSC Windtec, to ship the systems for use in 1.5 MW turbines that are licensed through AMSC for Chinese manufacture. Sinovel intends to be producing 1000 turbines a year by 2010. "We design the whole thing," says Jason Fredette of Massachusetts-based AMSC. "From the foundation to the tower and the blades to the electrical systems -- and hand a thick book of specs to companies that want to start manufacturing wind turbines and compete against Vestas and GE." The deal is further validation of the company's effort to maximize its acquisition last year of Windtec, a small private company owned by Austrian wind turbine engineer Gerald Hehenberger which AMSC bought for approximately $13 million. Windtec is the backbone of AMSC's wind business. More than 60% of AMSC's 2007 revenue will come from wind power electrical systems, says Fredette. "When companies sign up for a contract to license one of our turbine designs, we also contractually have the right of first refusal to sell the electrical systems. It plants a seed for those electrical system sales." AMSC has customers in South Korea, Japan and the Czech Republic, along with two in China in addition to Sinovel. The company has its eye on adding business in India, Europe and North and South America. Eventually, AMSC hopes to merge its superconductor know-how into wind turbines of 8 MW or more.

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