April 19, 2009

India to build Wind Turbines in Ontario

ENVIRONMENT - Asia's largest maker of wind turbines is thinking of setting up in Ontario for a new manufacturing plant, believing Ontario has the right combination of policies, infrastructure and local desire for more wind power.

Tulsi Tanti, founder and chair of Suzlon Energy Ltd., says that the Ontario government's proposed Green Energy Act is a "very strong" initiative that helps set the province apart from other jurisdictions in North America. The decision to come to Canada could come soon. "Based on our analysis, 2010 is the right time for us to start business operations in the Canadian market."

Tanti, also called the "wind man of India," was ranked by Forbes magazine in 2008 as the 33rd richest man in India, with a family wealth of $1.1 billion. That is billion with a B... and he sells wind turbines...?

15 years ago Tanti was a thirty-something engineer trying to grow his textile company with a new line of polyester yarns, but the problem was India's unreliable electricity system and the high cost of power... so he decided to purchase two wind turbines in 1995. By 2000 he was so impressed he decided to sell off his textile business and start manufacturing wind turbines.

Today his company Suzlon is the fifth-largest wind turbine supplier in the world with $3.34 billion in revenues in 2008, 13,000 employees and sells wind mill and wind turbine products in 21 countries. Tanti also owns a majority stake in German wind-turbine maker Repower AG, which has already secured contracts for developing wind-power projects in Canada.

Because of high transportation costs of shipping wind towers and rotor blades, its cheaper to set up manufacturing close to project locations. To build them they need to determine the availability of skilled manpower, the logistical costs and local government support.

In countries such as India, Brazil and Australia, Suzlon doesn't just sell wind turbines, it also designs, engineers and constructs the wind farms. In India Suzlon also builds the transmission lines that connect them to the country's power grid. In countries where they just build turbines, they build everything from scratch: the gearbox, rotor blades, generator, control systems, towers, etc. Everything is built locally by the company to save on shipping costs.

Despite the American recession Suzlon is expecting 20 to 30% growth by 2010.

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