Samsung Heavy turns to wind turbines as demand for ships falls

South Korea’s Samsung Heavy Industries says it is diving headfirst into the wind-turbine manufacturing business, and will be making 500 turbines a year by 2015.

The announcement comes as Samsung Heavy, the world’s second largest ship-maker, faces a slump in global demand for new shipping vessels. The technology to make the key component for wind turbines is similar to the one used to make ship propellers.

Making 500 turbines a year would contribute 3 trillion won ($2.4bn) to Samsung Heavy’s bottom line. The company says it may eventually raise production to as many as 1,600 turbines a year as it looks to expand into booming wind markets such as China and India.

Seoul-based Samsung Heavy says it is currently scouting for a plant site, and will make 200 turbines next year with capacities ranging between 2.5 and 5 megawatts. The company has already nabbed a letter of intent from US-based Cielo Wind Power to buy three turbines next year.

Competing firm Hyundai Heavy announced in September 2008 its intention to build a wind turbine plant in South Korea, which will be finished in early 2010.

In August, South Korea announced it will invest 100tr won into alternative energy by 2030.