China powers ahead in wind turbine industry

The global wind turbine industry has been dominated by the Danish firm Vestas for many years. Pilita writes in the Financial Times that a Chinese company, Goldwind has now overtaken Vestas to be the global leader.

 

China’s Goldwind becomes world’s largest wind turbine maker

A Chinese company has become the world’s biggest wind turbine maker, putting an end to more than 30 years of European and US dominance.

Hong Kong-listed Goldwind installed so much turbine capacity in 2015 it overtook the long-time market leader, Denmark’s Vestas, as well as General Electric of the US, according to FTI Consulting, a business advisory firm.

“For the wind industry, 2015 is the year of China,” said Feng Zhao, a senior director in FTI’s energy practice.

“China not only helped make 2015 another record year for the wind industry but was home to five of the top 10 turbine manufacturers in the world.”

The companies have ridden a surge in wind power in China, site of nearly half the turbine capacity installed around the world last year.

China last year edged past the much older EU wind market, with a cumulative capacity of 145 gigawatts that the government aims to boost to 200GW by 2020 as it strives to cut the smog choking its biggest cities.

The EU had 141.6GW of cumulative capacity at the end of 2015, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.

Goldwind dominates its domestic market, accounting for more than a quarter of turbines built, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

But the company has also spread its sights to markets in the US, Chile, Ecuador, Pakistan and Ethiopia

The growing presence of Chinese turbines in the global market is one reason for a round of recent consolidation in the wind industry.

The latest move came last month when it emerged that Germany’s Siemens, ranked the fourth-biggest turbine maker by FTI, was in talks to acquire Spain’s Gamesa, a step that could create the world’s biggest wind turbine maker by market share.

If sealed, that deal would add pressure on Vestas and GE, ranked number two and three respectively.

But all big wind turbine makers are chasing a market that has seen a marked increase in growth. Wind power accounted for 44 per cent of all electricity generation added in the EU in 2015, said FTI, more than any other source of energy.

Wind also overtook natural gas as the largest power generation source installed in the US last year, according to Bloomberg figures.

The US industry has been heartened by a December vote in Congress to extend important tax breaks for wind power, the same month nearly 200 countries adopted an international climate change agreement in Paris, designed to send a message that the growth of clean energy is unstoppable.

However, there is concern at a decision this month by the US Supreme Court that the administration could no longer enforce deadlines for complying with its Clean Power Plan, a plank in President Barack Obama’s climate change strategy.

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