By: Michael Lauzon
July 31, 2013
The vagaries of the wind energy market have forced a Midwest components supplier to stop producing parts for wind turbines.
Sintex Wausaukee Composites Inc. stopped producing nacelles for wind turbines in mid-July, confirmed the firm’s president, Edward Trueman, in a telephone interview. Sintex Wausaukee had been making the thermoset polyester/fiberglass components in Cuba City, Wis., since 2008 and cessation of the production led to 33 job losses.
Trueman said the closure can ultimately be blamed on “regulatory and legislative challenges, they were difficult headwinds.”
Wind-derived electricity costs four to five times as much as electricity based on natural gas fuel, Trueman estimated. The economics mean the industry relies on government subsidization. Legislation to renew wind energy tax abatements stalled in 2012 and “the ambiguity caused paralysis in the industry,” Trueman explained.
“The landscape is littered with the casualties of wind energy,” Trueman said.
The death blow for the Cuba City operation was a halt in orders by Sintex Wausaukee’s main customer, Nordex of North America in Jonesboro, Ark. That business is owned by wind turbine major Nordex SE of Hamburg, Germany, which in its 2012 annual report stated it was taking writedowns on operations in the United States and China because of low capacity utilization. Acconia SA of Madrid, Spain, was another customer.
“The [turbine component] business is hard to sustain because it is hugely cyclical,” according to Trueman.
Trueman stressed his company will continue business in its main markets of agriculture, off-road vehicles, mass transit and medical imaging. It will soon enter aerospace applications.
“Wind turbines were a small part of our business,” Trueman recalled. “It’s disappointing but it will not impact our business; we remain bullish.”
Sintex Wausaukee is based in Wausaukee, Wis. It has two other operating production plants in Wisconsin and Michigan and plans eventually to reintroduce production of undetermined components to Cuba City. In addition to fiberglass systems, Trueman said his company processes sheet molding compound and does reaction injection molding. It also plans to enter thermoplastic composites. It employs about 400 in the United States. Trueman said the company exports a big portion of its production.
The company is a subsidiary of Sintex Industries Ltd. a multimaterial conglomerate based in India. Sintex Industries’ plastics division is based in Gujarat, India.