Kansas Site Eyed for Wind Energy Foundry

Spanish metalcaster proposes ductile iron plant to support Siemens turbine assembly operation

A $40-million ductile iron foundry has been proposed for a site in Hutchinson, Kan., to supply parts for a Siemens wind turbine manufacturing plant there. Fundiciones Wind Energy Casting, or Fundiciones W.E.C., is a metalcasting concern established in 2002 in Spain, dedicated to producing components for customers building and servicing wind turbines.

Fundiciones W.E.C. operates a single foundry near Itziar, in Spain’s northeaster Basque region, where it produces up to 14,000 metric tons/year of castings in a range of 2 to 20 metric tons. Its products include turbine engine frames and rotor housings. In addition to casting it has machining capability to finish the parts.

Siemens Wind Power USA is a business unit of Siemens Energy that reportedly has invested more $100 million in wind-turbine manufacturing facilities in the U.S. since 2004. Included among these is the 300,000-ft 2 nacelle assembly facility in Hutchinson, which includes warehousing and quality control functions as well as assembly. A “nacelle” is the functional center of a windmill, the housing that sits atop a mast structure and contains the turbine.

Local reports indicate that Fundiciones W.E.C. secured an air permit recently from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for its project. The plant would have to be complete and in operation by January 2013 to qualify for certain federal grants that would help finance the development. Commissioners in Reno County, KS, are due to determine soon whether they will contribute to the development grant.

The proposed foundry would employ about 130 workers, according to its application information.

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