American Superconductor Corporation (NASDAQ: AMSC), a global power technologies company, today announced that it has acquired a 25 percent ownership position in Blade Dynamics Ltd., a designer and manufacturer of advanced wind turbine blades based on proprietary materials and structural technologies

Founded in the United Kingdom 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 (NYSE: DOW), through its Venture Capital group, also made a minority equity investment in Blade Dynamics.

“Blade Dynamics has developed unique and proprietary structural designs and manufacturing methods aimed at overcoming critical barriers that are facing today’s wind industry,” said Blade Dynamics founder and Chief Executive Officer Paul Rudling. “Utilizing advanced manufacturing processes, innovative structural designs, proven composite materials and our advanced Bladeskyn® surface coatings, our wind turbine blades provide compelling performance and efficiency advantages for wind turbine manufacturers.”

“We see tremendous potential for this technology and are delighted to work with AMSC and Dow,” Rudling continued. “Blade Dynamics will now be able to utilize AMSC’s unique wind turbine design capabilities and business model as well as Dow’s global reach and composite materials to capitalize on the tremendous opportunities we see in front of us.”

Today’s 2 megawatt (MW) wind turbines require rotors that are more than 70 meters (230 feet) in diameter, and 5 MW wind turbines require rotors that are at least 120 meters (360 feet) in diameter. Rotor diameter is the diameter of the swept area of a wind turbine’s blades. Ideally, these wind turbines would be equipped with even larger-diameter rotors to maximize power output. Yet cost, weight and transportation factors have historically limited the size of rotors, outweighing performance and efficiency benefits.

“The design and manufacturing processes for wind turbine blades have remained fundamentally unchanged for 20 years,” said AMSC founder and Chief Executive Officer Greg Yurek. “Today, however, the market is migrating to higher wind turbine power ratings. Onshore wind turbines now exceed 2 MW in many locations, and offshore wind farm developers are increasingly seeking wind turbines with power ratings exceeding 5 MW. Blade Dynamics presents us – and the entire wind industry – with a game-changing wind turbine blade technology that enhances performance and reduces weight and cost for high power wind turbines. We view this as a compelling investment and expect many wind turbine manufacturers, including our own AMSC Windtec™ licensees, to quickly migrate to the Blade Dynamics solution to avail themselves of these competitive advantages. In fact, AMSC Windtec and Blade Dynamics engineers have already been working in close collaboration to optimize blades for AMSC Windtec turbine designs.”

AMSC has acquired its 25 percent stake in Blade Dynamics for $8 million in cash and will have one seat on the Blade Dynamics Board of Directors. In addition to providing AMSC Windtec licensees with a differentiated blade offering, AMSC expects that its investment could expand the company’s sales opportunities with other wind turbine manufacturers around the world. AMSC also expects that Blade Dynamics technology will provide a compelling blade platform for the company’s 10 MW SeaTitan™ superconductor wind turbines.

“Dow believes Blade Dynamics’ technology has the potential to significantly improve the performance of wind power generation and transform the industry,” said Monty Bayer, global business director, Dow Ventures & Business Development, Licensing and Venture Capital. “This investment is another example of Dow’s commitment to supporting and accelerating the development of innovative technologies and alternative energy solutions.”

New Orleans Welcomes Blade Dynamics

Louisiana Economic Development (LED) also announced today that it is providing an incentive package to help Blade Dynamics establish and operate a manufacturing facility in New Orleans. This incentive package is worth up to $30 million and 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. Through Louisiana FastStart™, LED will also provide customized workforce support to Blade Dynamics, including assistance with employee recruitment, screening, training development, and training delivery, for up to two years during the company’s employment ramp-up.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, LED representatives and other government figures will join leaders from Blade Dynamics, AMSC, Dow and NASA later today at the Michoud Assembly Facility to formally launch the initiative.

“This is a huge win for New Orleans and our whole state,” said Governor Jindal. “By recruiting Blade Dynamics and its revolutionary wind power technologies to Louisiana, we are creating hundreds of high-paying new jobs in New Orleans while diversifying the economy of this region.”

“Today’s announcement marks a big step forward for Louisiana into renewable energy and green manufacturing that will help us continue to grow our economy,” Jindal continued. “Louisiana possesses a remarkable combination of assets that make our state an outstanding place in which to launch a green business. We have a low-cost manufacturing environment, well-established transportation and logistics networks, an experienced workforce in energy production and experience in rebuilding with green techniques. Indeed, renewable energy and green manufacturing is one of our target growth industries that will help to diversify our economy, attract

AMSC Acquires 25% Stake in Blade Dynamics Page 3

more businesses to Louisiana and, most importantly, create more jobs for our people so they can find the same kinds of opportunities here that historically they have had to pursue in places like Dallas, Houston or Atlanta.”

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 utilized this site for the construction of the Space Shuttle’s external fuel tanks for more than 30 years. Michoud is now a multi-tenant complex for other 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 United Kingdom as part of a long-term commitment to the offshore wind market in Europe.

“This is a momentous day for Blade Dynamics” said Rudling. “With strong support from the State of Louisiana and NASA and new allies in Dow and AMSC, our company is positioned for exciting growth in the years ahead.”


Source: amsc, August 18, 2010