Alstom to open US wind turbine factory

US: Alstom, the multinational French conglomerate, is hoping to add its name to the list of US-made wind turbines with plans to open a factory in the country.

Alstom plans US factory

"We have plans to site an assembly factory in the western part of the US," says Tim Brown, director of communications for Alstom's North American arm, based in Washington DC. "But we haven't announced where that will be and we haven't finalised when we're going to make that announcement."

The US Department of Energy, however, recently listed Alstom among awardees for clean energy manufacturing tax credits. The company has been pre-approved for a $2,725,800 tax credit to build a facility in Amarillo, Texas, which will assemble complete nacelles for its 60-hertz North American product line of 1.67MW and 3MW machines.

The facility must be online by 2014 to qualify for the credits that offset roughly 30% the installed cost of a manufacturing facility or upgrade.

Brown confirms that none of the company's machines are yet operational in the US, but Midwestern developer Juhl Wind plans to import Alstom Ecotecnia turbines from Spain for a community-owned project in Minnesota's Meeker County later this year (see Windpower Monthly February).

"We're working with Alstom," confirms CEO Dan Juhl. "My sons and I went over to Spain and looked at their factories and looked at their machines. We really like that turbine."

Alstom completed its purchase of Barcelona-based turbine maker Ecotecnia in 2007. In addition to having the US market in its sights, Alstom recently announced plans for a 300MW a year wind turbine assembly facility in Brazil.

As of October 2009, there were more than 1600 Ecotecnia turbines operational in around 88 wind farms, giving a total installed capacity of roughly 1.8GW.