American Superconductor Investing in Wind Technology

Today American Superconductor Corporation (AMSC) announced that it acquired a 25% ownership position in Blade Dynamics Ltd., a designer and manufacturer of advanced wind turbine blades. Blade Dynamics, which was founded in the UK, develops technologies that are designed to increase the efficiency and lower the costs of very large (multi-megawatt) turbine blades. The Dow Chemical Company, through its Venture Capital group, also made a minority equity investment in Blade Dynamics.

Blade Dynamics has to date focused its product development efforts on high-performance composite structures that allow rotors to be lighter and improve aerodynamics, according to the company.  It also has developed a material, Bladeskyn, which can be applied to the surface of blades to extend their life. The company expects that its blade technology will enable the development of rotors that are approximately 200 meters in diameter. The 5-MW wind turbines on the market today require rotors that are at least 120 meters (360 feet) in diameter.

“Blade Dynamics will now be able to utilize AMSC’s unique wind turbine design capabilities and business model as well as Dow’s global reach and composite materials to capitalize on the tremendous opportunities we see in front of us,” said Blade Dynamics founder and Chief Executive Officer Paul Rudling.

AMSC acquired its stake in Blade Dynamics for $8 million in cash and will have one seat on the Blade Dynamics Board of Directors. In addition to providing AMSC Windtec licensees with a differentiated blade offering, AMSC expects that its investment could expand the company’s sales opportunities with other wind turbine manufacturers around the world. AMSC also expects that Blade Dynamics technology will provide a compelling blade platform for the company’s 10-MW SeaTitan superconductor wind turbines.

In related news, the companies announced that the Louisiana Economic Development (LED) is providing a $30 million incentive package to help Blade Dynamics establish and operate a manufacturing facility in New Orleans, contingent on the company meeting certain capital investment and job creation milestones.

Located at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Michoud Assembly Facility, the Blade Dynamics operation is expected to add at least 600 direct new jobs to the local economy over the next decade.





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