Chinese Made Turbines Bound For Illinois

Even as the United States pushes for greater access to the wind-turbine market in China, a Chinese-owned firm is making inroads in the United States, winning a 20-year contract to provide power to the utility ComEd from the proposed 106.5-megawatt (MW) Shady Oaks project in Lee County, Illinois. This is reportedly the first big U.S. wind project that will use Chinese-made turbines.

State-owned Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., the fifth-largest turbine manufacturer in the world, established Goldwind USA just this last year, aiming to win a chunk of the U.S. market. It hit pay dirt last month when its bid with Mainstream Renewable Power was selected among nine winning renewable projects in a competitive process by the Illinois Power Authority. In a press release, Mainstream said that under the bid Goldwind USA acquires the Shady Oaks project, which will feature 71 of Goldwind’s 1.5-MW permanent magnet direct drive turbines.

Goldwind wind turbines, Shady Oaks project, Illinois

image via Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co.

The project might sound like a defeat for the U.S. wind power industry, but Goldwind USA was at great pains to portray it otherwise. The company said it “has placed a key focus on the utilization of local content and sourcing,” and estimated that Shady Oaks would “create over 100 U.S. construction and permanent jobs.” Furthermore, the company noted its deal with the Ohio-based company Timken to provide bearings for Goldwind’s 1.5 MW and 2.5 MW turbines.

This is Goldwind’s second U.S. project, after the installation of turbines in a much smaller (4.5 MW) Pipestone, Minn., wind power plant in January 2010, and its first since establishing a U.S. office in Chicago this past summer.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.