Inaccurate reports of blade rejection

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Press reports suggesting turbine manufacturer Repower has rejected blades made for it by Suzlon in China for use on Repower turbines for a project in Shandong are inaccurate, says Repower's boss, Per Hornung Pedersen. Suzlon, a majority owner of German Repower (main story), is making the blades at its Tianjin works to Repower design specifications. The report of the rejection originated in the Wall Street Journal in the middle of April, quoting "people familiar with the matter." Suzlon's shares plunged 18% at the time.

"There is always a learning curve, this is experienced with other suppliers. Once the learning curve has reached the required level of quality, serial production starts. In China, the learning curve has taken longer than planned but this should not be viewed out of proportion," says Pedersen.

The specifications Suzlon is working to under its framework agreement to supply Repower bear no relation to Suzlon's specifications for its own blades, Pedersen adds. Blades for Suzlon turbines suffered a series failure last year and a major retrofit of more than one thousand blades is coming to a close in the United States (Windpower Monthly, November 2008). Suzlon says the blades being made for Repower are in the prototype phase of the manufacturing process, which includes rigorous testing. "Suzlon will only commence serial manufacturing and delivery of the blades after it completes this prototype phase and can guarantee the quality of the product," states the company.

Pedersen points out that it is not correct that the blades made for Repower by Suzlon under a broad framework agreement are specified for turbines for any particular wind project. "Suzlon can produce the blades at any of its factories, in China, India or the US," he says. Repower also buys blades from LM Glasfiber and from its own joint venture firm, PowerBlades, in which it holds a 49% share. The other 51% is held by German blade manufacturer Abeking & Rasmussen.

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