German electronics and electrical engineering company Siemens AG is continuing its push to become one of the top three wind turbine manufacturers by 2012 with the opening of a new assembly line for nacelles at the company's plant in Brande, Denmark.
Siemens, already the world leader in offshore wind turbines, is currently running in sixth place in terms of market share for wind turbine manufacturing. The top position is held by Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems A/S, which has about 30% of the world's market.
General Electric Company holds second place ahead of Spain's Gamesa Corporacion Technologica SA in third, although both companies have about 7% of the world's market.
The new assembly line at the Danish facility will construct nacelles for wind turbines. The nacelle consists of the rotor shaft, to which the turbine blades are attached, the gearbox and the generator, and will be used in the Siemens 2.3-megawatt (MW) wind turbine.
The Danish plant was opened in February 2008 and complements the main factory in Brande and two rotor blade manufacturing plants in Aalborg and Engesvang. Productivity at the Brande facility has improved markedly since the opening. The assembly time for each nacelle has been reduced from 36 hours to 19 hours, and the number of work stations reduced from 18 to eight.
Siemens entered the wind power sector six years ago when it acquired Bonus Energy A/S. The company has expanded its wind power operations significantly since this time. Besides the Brande facility, Siemens recently completed a rotor blade production plant in Fort Madison, Iowa, and is currently building a nacelle-construction facility in Hutchinson, Kansas.
The company is also building a rotor blade and nacelle production facility at Lingang New City in Shanghai, China. The plant has an investment cost of $82 million and is scheduled to begin production later this year. Rotor blades and nacelles produced at the plant will be used to supply the local Chinese market, as well as for export.
In addition, Siemens has announced that it intends to invest $346 million in its Indian operations over the next three years, of which one-third will be allocated to manufacturing wind turbines. The first turbines are expected to be produced in 2012 and will be used for the local Indian domestic market.
The Global Wind Energy Council has estimated that the total wind turbine market for installations in 2009 had a value of more than $62 million, and some analysts have predicted that the global installed capacity will reach 340,000 MW by 2013 — more than double the current figure.
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