Acciona Windpower to annually produce 400 wind turbines by the end of 2008

Acciona CEO and VP of manufacturing offer new details about wind turbine plant

Acciona Windpower’s new wind turbine assembly plant, which the company says will create about 110 new jobs, should be completed by November, with production to start before the end of the year. By the time the company reaches full production in late 2008, it will be producing about 400 wind turbines a year in West Branch.

And, many have wondered about the Acciona’s wind turbines themselves. Adrian LaTrace, Acciona’s vice president of manufacturing said that Acciona’s 1.5 megawatt turbine is “a fairly complex device” — a far cry from your average windmill. LaTrace said the purpose of the turbine is to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. To do so, the steel turbine uses a bedplate drive train, which LaTrace said is not unlike an engine chassis. He said that the assembled turbines come with drive control systems as well as data collection systems, allowing the company to monitor data the turbines collect remotely.

Acciona plans to build a 1.5 MW turbine on site at its West Branch assembly plant. In future, a 3 MW turbine may be added, but that turbine is still being developed. Company officials said the exact location of the on-site turbine has not yet been determined. At least in the near future, neither will supply electricity to the assembly plant or to the larger power grid. This is due in part to zoning and permit issues, Duprey said. Still, Duprey is encouraged by the support that Alliant Energy, the local electricity provider, has given to Acciona’s new investment.

The new assembly plant will create about 110 new jobs, the company says. Of these, about 104 will be production level, while the others will be administrative and management. Of the 110 new jobs, 109 of them will pay an average wage of $15.14 an hour, or about $31,500 per year. In addition to finding new employees, Acciona has already begun its search for suppliers to provide parts for the 1.5 MW wind turbines. Peter Duprey, CEO of Acciona Energy North American Corporation said that initially, the company will use a hybrid supply chain, with some of the parts coming from existing suppliers in Europe. In future, that may change. “It is our desire to source as many companies from this region as we can,” Duprey said. “The industry’s growing. We need a pool of resources.”

While this is Acciona’s first wind turbine assembly plant in North America, the company is not new to renewable energy, or to the United States. In September, Acciona will dedicate a solar thermal plant in the Nevada desert, which will produce about 64 MW of power. Duprey said the Spanish company, which is more than 100 years old, has also invested in solar farms, biodiesel, ethanol, water purification and biomass — all in addition to being the largest producer of wind energy in the world. “Acciona’s pretty diverse,” Duprey said. “We really view ourselves as a sustainable business.”

Acciona Windpower
Edited by Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist
wind energy, wind farm, renewable energy, wind power, wind turbine, rotorblade, offshore, onshore

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