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Nordex begins construction of its first US wind turbine plant

German wind turbine maker Nordex has begun construction of a US$100 million manufacturing facility in Jonesboro, Arkansas, USA. It is expected to start production in 2010.

The Arkansas plant will position Nordex as a key player in the USA, which is on track to be the world’s single largest wind energy market in 2010, with 8500 MW of new capacity projected (23% of expected new capacity globally).

According to Ralf Sigrist, President and CEO of Chicago-based Nordex USA Inc, the plant is critical to the company's goal of generating 20% of global revenue in the USA. 

The Arkansas operation will produce the Nordex 2.5 MW N90 and N100 wind turbines.

The plant will be built in two phases, beginning with a nacelle assembly plant and followed by a rotor blade manufacturing facility. Nacelle assembly will begin ramping up in the second half of 2010, operating at full scale by 2012. It will have an annual production capacity of 300 turbines, or 750 MW. The entire facility (including rotor blade production) will be fully operational by 2014.

The nacelle plant will be built on 187 acres in the Craighead Technology Park and will have 115 000 ft2 of production space, 10 000 ft2 for a Training Academy and 35 000 ft2 of office space.

The plant represents a total investment of US$100 million – about $40 million of this is allocated to the nacelle plant and the remainder to the rotor blade facility. It will employ up to 700 staff by 2014.

Nordex is planning to train up a workforce through its on-site training academy, as well as a partnership with Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

“The wind industry is fairly young in the US, so we have to train people from the ground up,” says Joe Brenner, Vice President of Production for Nordex USA. “Making turbines requires specialised skills. It’s not just a $100 million facility. It’s a new industry, and the most important resource we can put time and money into is our people.”

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