GE, A-Power Team Up on Wind Turbines in China

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Fairfield, Conn.-based General Electric (s GE) is already one of the biggest manufacturers of wind turbines in the world, but it could be expanding its reach in Asia with a move announced today to form a joint venture with Shenyang, China’s A-Power Energy Generation Systems (s APWR) to manufacture wind turbine gearboxes in the country.

GE also signed a deal to supply A-Power, which provides distributed power generation systems in China, with more than 900 2.7-megawatt gearboxes beginning in 2010. GE currently builds its gearboxes in Erie, Penn., through its GE Drivetrain Technologies unit. Financial terms of the supply deal and the joint venture agreements were not disclosed.

The new joint venture will be majority owned by GE Drivetrain Technologies and will serve as the unit’s Southeast Asia manufacturing center, with GE and A-Power planning to serve wind power customers in the region starting in mid-2010.

The companies didn’t say where the new plant will be set up, or how big it will be, but A-Power, which entered the wind power business last year, opened its first wind turbine production facility yesterday in Shenyang. That plant uses technology licensed from Germany’s Fuhrlander. A-Power said the Shenyang plant is currently the largest wind turbine facility in China, with total annual production capacity of more than 1.1 GW. The company plans to sell those turbines to both domestic and foreign markets.

That domestic market could be the most important, with the growing Chinese wind market already ranking at No. 5 in the world for installed wind power capacity, according to BusinessWeek. The country currently has about 6 GW of installed capacity, but the government is aiming for much more, targeting 30 GW by 2020.

Last month, Netherlands renewable energy developer Econcern got in on the growing market, announcing plans to build four wind farms with more than 720 MW of total capacity. Econcern will work on the projects with CNOOC New Energy, part of state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp., and Sinohydro Renewable Energy, a subsidiary of Sinohydro Corp., another state-owned business.

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