New horizons for turbine supplier -- Ambitious overseas targets

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Spanish turbine manufacturer Ecotècnia is processing permits to open turbine supply branches in Portugal and Italy. "The branches should be operating within the first half of 2005," says the company's Antonio Martínez. The move is part of Ecotècnia's strategy for international expansion and follows the opening of a branch in France last year, which has just landed consent to build a 12 MW wind farm. Martínez also expects to clinch a 10 MW contract in Japan soon. Meanwhile, sales for 2004 -- all for Spanish projects -- were up 70% on 2003 at EUR 170 million, with orders totalling 270 MW.

Ecotècnia's total installed capacity to date is 710 MW, all but 3.2 MW of which is in Spain. Martínez sees international expansion as vital for the company. For 2006, he wants exports to make up 15% of sales, which he estimates will require orders for 300 MW in capacity for that year. "Spain is currently the most dynamic market in the world," says Martínez. However, with around 8000 MW already online, 1700 MW of which was connected in 2004, developers are fast approaching the national wind cap which is set at 13,000 MW for 2011, he points out. Even if this cap is raised to 20,000 MW, currently under consideration by the central government, Martínez says the time is ripe for international expansion.

FOREIGN markets

This is not the first time the company has announced ambitious targets for overseas sales, however. Its 2001 strategic plan set an export target of 16% of sales by end-year 2004 -- a target missed by a long shot. "This is mainly because foreign target markets have not grown as expected," says Martínez. "But now new neighbouring markets are opening up, especially Portugal and Italy. These two growth markets are especially important given that French regulation is currently restricting large wind development potential." While establishing offices in other countries, Ecotècnia has "no immediate plans to set up manufacturing facilities abroad," he adds.

The company already has a foothold in the Portuguese market, with an order to supply its 1.67 MW turbines for the 11.69 MW Ortiga project, currently under construction by Spanish developer Eyra. "We expect to start fitting the turbines before the end of February," says Martínez, who adds that negotiations with other developers in the country are also underway. The same, he says, is true in Italy, although as yet no deals have been clinched there. While in France the company has chosen to develop its own wind power projects, with plans for another three 12 MW projects in the pipeline, in Portugal and Italy it plans to concentrate purely on wind turbine supplies to third parties.

looking to the east

As well as Europe, Ecotècnia is hoping to gain a foothold in Asia. It has already won an order from Japanese developer IPPJ Japan to supply its 1.67 MW machines for the 10.02 MW Satumi project, which has already secured subsidy arrangements and is now awaiting building permits. The developer, which has a further 120 MW in the pipeline across eleven sites in Japan, will also act as Ecotècnia's sales agent in the country. Martínez hopes Japan will provide a springboard to other growing wind markets in Asia, he says, "especially India," where the company already has 2.25 MW turning.

Meanwhile, Ecotècnia plans to launch its 3 MW machine before the end of the year. Martínez says the new machine is especially suited to both the Portuguese and French markets. "Our 3 MW machine should make up a considerable part of orders by 2007," he says.

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