U.S. Firm Inks Carbon Fiber Contract with Vestas

Zoltek Companies, based in St. Louis have secured a long-term supply agreement with Vestas Wind Systems AS, of Denmark, the world’s largest producer of wind turbine generators. Under the agreement, Zoltek expects to provide Vestas with US$80-to-$100 million worth of carbon fiber and carbon fiber materials over the first three years, for the manufacture of rotor blades for wind turbine generators.

The company said this is the largest commercial carbon fiber supply agreement ever. The arrangement follows extensive testing and qualification work in Europe. Vestas has notified Zoltek that its Panex 35 carbon fiber has been fully approved and certified for use in all internal processes for producing rotor blades. “The generation of electricity through wind energy is a growth business – especially in Europe – and carbon fiber is now recognized as the only material that will do the job in supporting the development of bigger and more powerful generators,” said Zsolt Rumy, Zoltek’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Rumy added that Zoltek is now shipping significant quantities of carbon fiber for the wind energy industry and the Company expects that sales volume for wind energy applications will accelerate in the coming six months and thereafter due to rapid growth in demand. Worldwide, generation of electricity through wind energy is increasing nearly 20 percent per year, and it is increasing at an even faster rate in some regions of the world. “This agreement represents the culmination of three years of extensive work in supporting the testing and qualification of our material with European customers and partners,” noted Tim McCarthy, Vice President Sales and Marketing. “European companies are in the forefront of the design, building and deployment of the most powerful and efficient wind turbines. So this is where the action is and this is where we want to be as the lead supplier of the critical enabling material for all future growth.” In order to meet demand for carbon fibers for wind energy and other commercial carbon fiber applications, Zoltek has undertaken a three-phase capacity expansion program. First, Zoltek has initiated the start-up of the five installed lines at its Abilene, Texas facility and activated sufficient precursor capacity to support all of the Company’s carbon fiber capacity, which are scheduled to be fully operational in the first quarter of calendar 2005. Second, Zoltek plans to add two new carbon fiber lines and add sufficient precursor capacity at the Company’s Hungarian facility by mid-2005. The third phase of the expansion program calls for a doubling of the carbon fiber and precursor capacity levels after the second phase, to be operational in 2006.
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