Indian turbine supplier recalls cracked windmill blades

April 18th, 2008 - 10:56 pm ICT by admin  

New York, April 18, (IANS) Indian industrialist Tulsi Tanti-led Suzlon Energy, the world’s fifth largest wind turbine supplier, has withdrawn most of the blades it sold in the US market after company’s largest global customer complained of cracks in the blades. Edison Mission Energy, a unit of Edison International, said in a February filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission that the 144-foot-long windmill blades it had bought from Suzlon have begun to break at its three wind-power sites in the Midwest of the US.

Suzlon has subsequently recalled 1,250 blades from its top-of-the-line turbines, which is a majority of blades the company sold in the US, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Friday.

Tanti, the company’s chairman and managing director, has admitted that about 45 blades have cracked but claimed the problem did not stem from any fundamental design flaw, the business daily said.

Edison Mission of California placed its first orders for Suzlon’s 2.1 mega watts (MW) turbines in early 2006. Suzlon’s competitive pricing, $1.5 million per MW, nearly 20 percent less than the US and European models, helped clinch the deal.

To date, Edison has signed agreements for enough turbines to generate 1,000 MW, making it Suzlon’s largest global customer.

Soon after operations began, blades began splitting, Edison said in its February filing.

Deere & Co, another big US customer, has also seen some of its blades crack, according to Suzlon spokesman Vivek Kher, the WSJ said.

Kher blamed the cracks on the Midwest’s unexpectedly violent changes in wind direction.

Suzlon has now decided to add an extra lamination layer to the blades it supplied in the US. The company’s tab for repairing cracked blades and reinforce the rest may be $30 million.

There may be additional costs. Edison plans to seek compensation for business lost while turbines are down and for delays in starting new wind-power projects.

Incidentally, Suzlon announced Friday orders for 200 MW capacity turbines for wind farm projects in China.

Suzlon’s annual sales weigh in at roughly $1.8 billion. It has captured nearly eight percent of the US market.

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