Canada firm claims huge China order -- Plans manufacture in Quebec

A Montreal company new to wind power, AAER World, says it has a C$49 million contract to build 27 wind turbines for China and plans to build a manufacturing plant in Quebec to produce 1.5 MW machines in fall 2003. The deal with Fujian YongFeng Science and Technology comes with an option for the Chinese to buy 66 additional wind turbines, which would bring the value of the order to C$120 million, says AAER. Although the first order is for 1.5 MW wind turbines, AAER's chief executive Dave Gagnon says its factory will produce a range of turbine sizes for the North American and Asian markets. The technology is European, but Gagnon declines to say from which company.

AAER is negotiating with Investissement Québec for a tax credit on labour costs at the new factory under a government program designed to create jobs in Quebec's economically depressed Gaspé region, particularly in the maritime and wind industries. Gagnon says he will wait until those negotiations are complete before releasing details about the company's technology transfer agreement or its financial partner. "We will make an announcement in November to confirm everything."

Deal with American

The preferred area for the manufacturing facility is Rivière-du-Loup area on the Gaspé Peninsula. The company says it has had a "very good reception" from potential component suppliers and investors. AAER, founded by Gagnon in December 2000, sees tremendous opportunities in the North American wind market. Gagnon says the company is working on a C$200 million deal with a US developer, who he would not name, to supply it with 120 wind turbines.

In Canada, Hydro-Quebec's plan to buy 1000 MW of wind over the next ten years, along with the federal wind power production incentive and the government's intention to ratify the Kyoto Protocol before the end of the year, are helping drive the wind market, and AAER's plans. By 2004, says Gagnon, the company hopes to build an assembly plant in British Columbia to supply the west, including markets in the US Pacific Northwest.

Founded on granite

The fact that AAER's first order comes from outside North America is the result of a longstanding relationship between Gagnon and Fujian YongFeng through ICG Group, a granite supplier that now comes under the AAER umbrella. When the Chinese company expressed an interest in getting into the energy business, Gagnon's research led him to wind power as the most commercially viable of the renewable technologies. "This company has a lot of opportunities in the Chinese market and a very good contact in the energy sector in China."

Both Gagnon and Yong Su Lee, president of Fujian YongFeng, see a growing demand for electricity in rural India and China that can be met with wind. "This project is very important for China, a country where the need for wind energy represents millions of kilowatts and where 70 million people still have no access to electricity," says Yong Su Lee.