Canadian blades for big turbines -- Money for growth

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The "deeper pockets" of its new Australian shareholder will allow Canada's wind turbine blade maker to move into manufacture for megawatt-sized machines for the North American market, says the company's founder. "It takes so much capital to go after the big opportunities to build the megawatt blades that it was beyond my means to invest that money," says Polymarin-Bolwell Composite's Helge Whittholz. He will head the new partnership's expansion plans as executive vice-president.

In August, Australia's Bolwell Corporation announced it had bought 50% of the shares of Ontario-based Polymarin Huron Composites (Windpower Monthly, September 2000) . The remaining half of the company, renamed Polymarin-Bolwell Composites, is owned by Dutch company Polymarin BV.

New company president Campbell Bolwell says the Canadian facility is ideally situated to supply blades which are too big to ship cost effectively to the US from Europe. "Here we are, we're 200 kilometres from what's potentially the biggest market in the world. We're well placed to provide blades into that market at very competitive prices."

The process has already begun. Late last year, says Whittholz, the company began development work on a 37 metre, six tonne blade for Enron Wind's 1.5 MW turbine. "We've more or less completed the first blade and plan to test it later this year."

Over the short term, says Whittholz, Polymarin-Bolwell will add ten people to its current workforce of 60. As it moves into full production of megawatt-sized blades, hopefully early next year, "we're probably looking at another 100." The company will also continue to pursue opportunities to produce blades for smaller wind turbines, says Whittholz. Since its opening in 1995, the blade plant has manufactured approximately 800 blades for 600 kW and 750 kW machines.

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