28 Mar 2023 14:06

Rosatom to establish production of blades for wind farms

MOSCOW. March 28 (Interfax) - Rosatom state nuclear energy corporation plans to establish a location in the Ulyanovsk Region for manufacturing blades for wind farms, CEO Alexei Likhachev said at the "Composites Without Borders" forum.

"Alexei Yuryevich [Russkikh, governor of the Ulyanovsk Region] and I announce to you that we are creating a new location for joint production of wind blades in the Ulyanovsk Region, in our region of presence," Likhachev said.

According to Likhachev, developing wind-power generation is "impossible without carbon fiber".

"This is not a new project for us. More than two years ago we developed our own Umatex blade," company head Alexander Tyunin told reporters, adding that it was made for a Novawind wind turbine.

"For various reasons, the project did not get as far as the investment phase during these two years," Tyunin said, adding that this was also influenced by the preferential terms of the Indian supplier. Now, he said, Rosatom has made a strategic decision to set up its own production of turbine blades in Russia.

"We will invest more than 2 billion rubles in this project," he said. This is a commercial project, and no budget funds are planned for it, he said. The Ulyanovsk region will not be a shareholder in the production, but there are other potential interested parties.

"As for equity participation, we are not doing this with the Ulyanovsk region in any way. We have a potential partner. I won't go into details for now, this is a negotiating process. This is a private business," Tyunin said, when asked about the structure of the partnership. But he said that if this Russian company [the potential partner] does not want to take part, then Umatex will set up production itself and finance it.

Novawind is supposed to be the key consumer, but Umatex as a whole does not rule out the possibility of supplying blades to other companies if they are interested.

"Anything is possible," Tyunin said.

For now, focusing on Novawind's needs, the company plans to produce about 360-380 blades per year. Production should be set up within two years.

"In 2025, we plan to start serial deliveries of blades to Novawind wind generators," Tyunin said.

Vestas, one of the biggest foreign manufacturers of equipment for wind farms which worked on wind projects with Fortum , left Russia last year. Vestas Manufacturing Rus planned to mothball the turbine blade plant in Ulyanovsk that had operated since December 2018 by the end of last year, the Russian Industry and Trade Ministry has told Interfax.

"The plant has shut, but the competencies remain, the site remains, good personnel remain," the governor said, commenting on the agreement with Rosatom.

Rosatom has already made components for wind power plants. The corporation's Novawind formed the Red Wind joint venture with the Dutch wind turbine manufacturer Lagerwey in 2017. It was assumed that the joint venture would be responsible for "contracting components for subsequent delivery to the production sites of Novawind in Volgodonsk," Novawind said. As part of the partnership, Lagerwey was supposed to supply components for the first 60 wind turbines and ensure "the transfer of technologies for the production of wind turbines with a capacity of 2.5 MW and 4.5 MW to the Russian partner."

But Novawind last year terminated its lease contracts with Red Wind due to sanctions, according to the Russian company's 2022 RAS financial statements. The contracts with Red Wind B.V. were terminated on July 7 "due to the imposition of economic sanctions," the document says. The company had entered into lease and sub-lease contracts for the production and assembly of components for wind turbines.

As a result, Novawind took over the functions of production and installation of the wind turbines "taking the imposed sanctions restrictions into account."

"As part of the first program to support renewable energy, Rosatom successfully carried out a technology transfer and localized critical important components. Under conditions of sanctions pressure, we managed to maintain the pace of project implementation at a fairly high level," Novawind CEO Grigory Nazarov said at the end of last year.