By Barney Smith
TPI Composites makes composite blades for wind turbines, just the blades, not the whole turbine. It claims it is the only “ US-based independent manufacturer of composite wind blades with a global footprint”. The company’s headquarters are in Scottsdale, Arizona and it operates factories in the U.S., China, Mexico, Turkey and India –global enough for me. It also runs additional engineering development centres in Denmark and Germany. Despite the challenging environment driven by COVID-19, with its attendant short-term manufacturing disruptions, the company delivered better than planned results for the first quarter of this year, ending 31 March 2020, growing net sales by 19 per cent. By comparison with a net loss of $12.1 million in the same period in 2019, there was a greatly reduced net loss of $0.5 million. Even so, this loss largely reflects reduced production levels at the manufacturing facilities in China in the first quarter, say approximately $9 million, net of around $2 million of income taxes. All this due to the virus and the lockdown.
According to the website, the President of TPI commented “Notwithstanding the problems driven by COVID-19, the demand for wind energy remains strong and we remain encouraged by our long-term prospects. Wind energy remains one of the most cost-effective sources of energy and TPI is at the forefront of this shift to renewable energy given our strategic role in the wind energy supply chain.” Provided that demand remains strong, the expectation would be that any reduction in wind power installations in 2020 would only be a delay, resulting in a spill-over into 2021.
The annual report tells us that TPI’s manufacturing facilities in China have resumed their operations after an extended Spring Festival holiday due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
TPI’s Indian manufacturing facility located in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, a relatively new investment, has slowly begun to resume operations (like other renewables there) but with rather limited production levels of only 25-30 per cent as India’s lockdown measures have started to ease for key industrial sectors.
In Turkey, TPI operated its manufacturing plant in Izmir during the first half of April with approximately 50 per cent production capacity following a Turkish government request, from a desire to stem the spread of the virus. Due to global supply chain disruptions, the plant in Turkey was also affected by the shortage of blade core materials and approximately two weeks of production will be lost in Q2 2020. The expectation is that the resulting loss of sales will negatively affect working capital in Turkey in Q2.