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LM Wind Power announces site search to manufacture blades in South Africa

Danish wind turbine blade supplier looking for SA site to become manufacturing hub for Africa

Wind farm with sunset
The South African government has indicated it wants an annual wind power market of up to 600MW over the next 20 years

Danish turbine blade supplier LM Wind Power has confirmed its intentions to expand its manufacturing base to South Africa. The company has said it will be looking for a suitable site for a wind turbine blade manufacturing facility located on the coast of South Africa between Cape Town and the Port Elizabeth areas. The facility could lead to South Africa becoming a manufacturing hub for LM Wind Power in the African continent.

The turbine blade facility will be based on LM Wind Power's proven modular factory concept. This has been used for fast construction of its wind power facilities in the USA, Poland, China and Brazil. It could employ up to 300 people once fully operational, the company said.

The news follows on from when LM Wind Power signed a cooperation agreement in 2011 with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) in South Africa to jointly work to establish local blade manufacturing. This aims to reduce costs for wind turbine manufacturers, make wind energy more competitive and provide local jobs.

The development from LM Wind Power also follows other Danish turbine firms helping build up wind power in South Africa over the last 12 months. This includes Vestas, which won an order to supply its wind turbines to the Western Cape of the country in November 2012.

Søren Høffer, LM Wind Power VP for sales and marketing, said, of the announcement: "Many customers seek our support to their efforts in developing the market for wind energy in South Africa. We are pleased to make this announcement which confirms our commitment to help them succeed, using our technology and innovation to harness wind energy profitably and with maximum operational reliability and logistics savings.

"The development in South Africa coupled with increased local content requirements have the potential to drive the development of a local wind energy supply chain," Høffer added. "This could ultimately lead to South Africa becoming a manufacturing hub for all of or part of the African continent. Political vision and commitment can make that scenario real."

The South African government has indicated it wants a wind market of up to 600MW per year over the next two decades.