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Zoltek Companies Inc. has concluded a long-term strategic supply agreement with Fibreblade S.A. (a business unit of Gamesa Eolica) of Pamplona, Spain.
Under the agreement, Zoltek expects to provide Fibreblade with $65 – $75 million worth of carbon fibre and carbon fibre materials over the first three years of the contract for the manufacture of advanced large- scale rotor blades for wind turbine generators.
“”We are extremely excited that Gamesa has selected Zoltek as a key supplier and partner,”” said Zsolt Rumy, Zoltek’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “”Zoltek has now secured a significant portion of the fast-growing global wind energy market for our commercial, high-performance carbon fibres. Globally, the generation of electricity through wind energy is expanding nearly 20% per year in terms of newly installed megawatts. We stand to gain a larger and larger share of a growing pie as a result of a clear trend in wind energy toward longer and longer blades to increase power generation capacity. Carbon fibre is now recognized as the only material that will do the job in supporting the development of larger and more powerful generators. It is lightweight and it meets the stiffness requirements of longer and longer blades, providing significant advantages in reducing the cost of other components in wind turbine systems.””
Gamesa Eolica is the world’s second largest supplier of wind turbines with carbon fibre reinforced blades and the market leader in several important regional European market sectors. Gamesa has recently announced production expansion plans in the United States and continues to serve an ever-increasing portfolio of customers around the world.
“”This agreement represents the culmination of several years of extensive work in supporting the testing and qualification of our Panex 35 fibre with European customers and partners,”” noted Tim McCarthy, Vice President Sales and Marketing. “”Fibreblade has been a particularly innovative and forward-thinking partner to work with and we look forward to our continued cooperation. The wind energy market is strategic for us because of its positive growth outlook. The leaders of the wind energy industry have now confirmed via thorough technical and commercial diligence what we at Zoltek have been convinced of all along — that Zoltek’s Panex 35 fibre offers the best price / performance value available on the market today and Zoltek is positioned best to supply the rapidly expanding needs of this market sector.””
In order to meet demand for carbon fibre for wind energy and other commercial carbon fibre applications, Zoltek has undertaken a three-stage capacity expansion program. Zoltek is nearing completion of the first stage of this program, the re-start of the 2,500-ton carbon fibre production lines at its Abilene, Texas facility and the activation of additional precursor capacity at its facility in Hungary used as the essential raw material in carbon fibre production. It also began the second stage of the installation of two new carbon fibre lines in Hungary along with further additions to precursor capacity. The third phase of the expansion program will commence in 2006, when Zoltek is planning to double capacity again — 9,000 tons (18 million pounds) of carbon fibre per year, in order to meet the levels of demand represented by existing contracts and orders for the year 2007.
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