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Wind power breaks new ground

GERMAN industrial giant Siemens AG began construction yesterday on its first manufacturing plant for wind turbines in China - a 581 million yuan (US$85 million) facility in Shanghai's Lingang New City.

The announcement marks a key step in Shanghai's plan to develop Lingang, at the southern tip of the Nanhui area near the Yangshang Deep-Water Port, into China's leading equipment manufacturing base for wind power and nuclear energy.

With the port nearby and served by major highways, the location offers proximity to transportation infrastructure for companies that need to ship large equipment such as wind blades, which can be tens of meters long. Other industrial firms, including Shanghai Electric Group and Huayi Electric Co, are either building or planning to build wind-power equipment plants in Lingang.

Siemens will initially produce blades for 2.3 megawatt and 3.6MW wind turbines in Lingang. The mainstream product from domestic firms is a 1.5MW model.

The company will make turbine housings at a later stage. The housings, mounted on top of the wind generator's tower, are used to support the rotor and enclose the turbine's major components such as its gearbox and electronic controls.

China has witnessed rapid development of wind power over the past few years as the government moves to increase the use of renewable energy to reduce air pollution. State leaders also envision the development of the renewable energy industry as a strategic measure to cope with the economic slowdown.

Local content rule

Equipment makers are attracted to China not only because of the rapidly growing market here but also because the government requires 70 percent of wind plant content to be domestically made.

Initially, the Siemens plant will be able to turn out 500MW of wind power capacity annually after operation starts in the second half of next year. The company has reserved additional space in Lingang as it plans to increase capacity to 1,500MW in phase two and 2,500MW in phase three, said Martin Meyer ter Vehn, general manager of Siemens Wind Power Blades (Shanghai) Co.

At the top end, the plant will be as big as Siemens' core wind manufacturing base in Denmark, he said. Seimens entered the wind power market through the acquisition of Danish company Bonus Energy AS in 2004.

Siemens is the global market leader for offshore wind energy. It is seeking offshore windmill deals in China, though it is not involved in the nation's first large-scale offshore wind farm project under construction at Donghai Bridge, which links Lingang and the Yangshan port.


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