Generic blade for pitch regulation

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Polymarin-Bolwell Composites, Canada's only wind turbine blade manufacturing facility, has developed a generic blade designed for use on pitch-regulated turbines from 600 kW to 750 kW. "In the past we always had blades built to print, where we didn't own the design," says the company's Helge Wittholz. "This time we have taken a licence, so we can sell it to anybody."

The company has successfully completed static load tests on the 24.5 metre blade and has produced a set of three, which it is planning to have installed on a 750 kW turbine to test the blade's performance. Polymarin-Bolwell has approached several manufacturers about using the blade, says Wittholz, and all have expressed an interest. As the North American market grows, he adds, it only makes sense to produce blades closer to home.

"The market has to be here for the bigger blades. With smaller blades it doesn't matter, the transportation costs are minimal. But transportation costs can be up to the value of the larger blades. They're also very cumbersome and can be damaged."

With the Canadian dollar hitting all-time lows against its US counterpart, Wittholz expects to have an exchange rate advantage over Polymarin-Bolwell's American competitors. The company's plant is also well situated, only 200 kilometres from the US border.

While the recent two-year renewal of the US production tax credit should help boost that market, says Wittholz, from a manufacturing perspective the five year extension the industry had been lobbying for would have been better. "To set up production you need two, three years to get your investment back. You need long term projects."

Canada's new federal wind production incentive, designed to support the installation of 1000 MW of new wind over the next five years, is also a "big, big step." But, he adds, support from the provinces is also needed to fully tap into the country's wind power, and manufacturing, potential.

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