American Superconductor takes stake in Blade Dynamics

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American Superconductor has acquired a 25 per cent ownership position in Blade Dynamics, the Isle of Wight-based designer and manufacturer of wind turbine blades for $8m (£5m) in cash.

Founded in 2007, Blade Dynamics has developed wind-turbine-blade technologies designed to increase the efficiency and performance of very high power (multi-megawatt) wind turbines, while also reducing costs. The Dow Chemical Company, through its venture capital group, has also made a minority equity investment in the company.

In addition to providing American Superconductor Windtec licensees with a differentiated blade offering, the company expects that its investment could expand its sales opportunities with other wind-turbine manufacturers around the world. It also expects that Blade Dynamics’ technology will provide a blade that could be used with its 10MW SeaTitan superconductor wind turbines.

Blade Dynamics also recently announced that it plans to establish and operate a manufacturing facility in New Orleans with the help of an incentive package from Louisiana Economic Development (LED). The incentive package, worth up to $30m, is 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.

The Michoud Assembly Facility is an 832-acre site owned by NASA and located in eastern New Orleans. One of the largest manufacturing campuses in the world, NASA and Lockheed Martin have used the site for the construction of the Space Shuttle’s external fuel tanks for more than 30 years. Michoud is now a complex for other US government agencies, government contractors and commercial businesses, in addition to its core NASA work.

In addition to its presence in New Orleans, Blade Dynamics plans to eventually expand its operations in the UK as part of a long-term commitment to the offshore wind market in Europe.