Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd is to eliminate 4000 jobs over the next four years, more than 10 per cent of its 37 000 domestic workforce, in an attempt to increase profits. The conglomerate, Japan’s largest heavy machinery manufacturer, has seen its profits fall significantly during the country’s third recession in a decade; a 55 billion yen ($440 million) profit is forecast for the 2002 fiscal year.

Other measures include the reduction of interest bearing debt by 10 per cent during the next four years. Mitsubishi said it would be working towards a group pretax profit of 150 billion yen ($1.15 billion) in 2006 from sales of 3 trillion yen ($23.1 billion) up slightly from the 2002 prediction of 2.85 trillion yen.

Meanwhile, the company is to establish a manufacturing base in Mexico to produce fibre-reinforced plastic blades and other major components for wind turbines. By strengthening its blade production capacity, the company hopes to be able to make a full scale entry into the US wind power market.

In order to set up the new operation, Mitsubishi Power Systems Inc (MPS), a Florida-based US subsidiary of MHI and US company TPI Composites Inc will set up a new US-based joint venture called VienTek LCC. VienTek will establish VienTek S de RL in Juarreez, Chihuahua to manufacture the blades. Manufacturing is due to start in July 2002, with an annual capability to build blades equivalent to 400 MW of generating capacity.

At the same time MHI will expand the wind turbine group based at MPS. This group will be responsible for marketing, sales and local procurement activities. MHI also plans to dispatch engineers specialising in quality control and fabrication to MPS to oversee the construction of blades and towers from materials procured in the USA.

Currently MHI has around 1100 wind turbines in California, Wyoming and Texas with an aggregate capacity of 502 MW. The company is anticipating a large increase in demand as companies take advantage of tax benefits for renewable energy. The US has a potential wind capacity of around 4000 GW, five times current total installed generating capacity.