Growing U.S. Wind Industry Yields Two New Wind Blade Factories

March 21, 2007

The rapid growth of wind power in the United States has resulted in two new factories to manufacture wind turbine blades. Knight & Carver opened its wind blade manufacturing and repair facility in Howard, South Dakota, on March 6th. The new facility will serve as the wind blade headquarters for Knight & Carver, which was previously better known for building yachts. The 26,000-square-foot facility will employ as many as 25 full-time employees in 2007, with plans to expand to a 25-person workforce within two years. See the Knight & Carver press release.

Meanwhile, Vestas announced on March 20th that it has decided to build a wind blade factory in Windsor, Colorado. The new $60 million facility, located between Fort Collins and Greeley, will have a production capacity of 1,200 blades per year and will employ about 400 people. The Danish company bills itself as the leading supplier of wind power technology in the world, and has already installed more than 9,300 wind turbines in the United States. In early March, Vestas received an order for eight of its 3-megawatt wind turbines, which will be installed at the Tehachapi Pass in Southern California as part of an effort to install 1,500 megawatts of wind power there. Construction on the new blade factory will begin soon, and the factory will start producing wind turbine blades in early 2008. See the Vestas press releases from March 6th (PDF 23 KB) and March 20th (PDF 28 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

The new wind blade manufacturing plants and the focus on larger wind turbines in the United States highlight the importance of DOE's efforts to establish a new facility for testing large wind turbine blades. DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy announced on March 9th that the location for the new facility has been narrowed to either Texas or Massachusetts. The finalist will be named in mid-2007 and awarded a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with NREL, under which DOE and NREL will provide $2 million in capital equipment to the blade test facility in addition to technical assistance. The facility will cost as much as $12 million and will be able to test wind turbine blades that are as much as 230 feet in length. See the announcement on the NREL Web site.