A Look at Wind’s Key Players: What’s Next in Wind…

As a maturing industry, the wind power sector has emerged as dynamic and vibrant. A number of strong players are now coming to the fore by demonstrating the longevity, technology and capacity needed to make a major impact on the global market. Here, David Appleyard looks at just a few of those key players and what they are saying.

‘We are now in a position enabling us to bid for a larger number of more challenging projects’

Jens Frederik Hansen, CEO of A2SEA

A2SEA A/S: Offshore wind installation and access

A leader the field in offshore installation, with new vessels it is expanding both capacity and capabilities

A2SEA was established in 2000 with transport, installation and servicing of offshore wind farms as its core business. Subsequently it has installed more than 70% of all existing offshore wind turbines.

Capabilities include foundation and turbine installation and other associated offshore work using jack-up barges with heavy lift capability and self-elevating crane vessels. The company also provides turbine maintenance services.

A2SEA owns and operate two vessels, M/V Sea Energy and M/V Sea Power. Both were originally feeder-type container ships but were converted by A2SEA in 2001 into self elevating crane ships, specifically designed to meet the requirements of the offshore market. Sea Energy was further upgraded with longer legs and an improved jacking system to enable it to operate in water depths of up to 27 metres. The group also owns Sea Worker, which it acquired in September 2008 from Dutch company Jack-up Barge B.V. for an undisclosed price. This vessel is a jack-up barge built to operate in the offshore oil and gas sector and is especially suited for deep water sites due to it 73 metre-long legs, enabling it to work on water depths of up to 40 metres. It joins Sea Jack, the company’s first jack-up (acquired from Mammoet Van Oord in 2007) and both are capable of installing monopiles, transition pieces and offshore wind turbine Top Heads.

Sea Power is fully booked for this year, employed with service works and installation of 91 offshore machines at Horns Rev 2 where the rig Sea Jack is currently working on the foundation installation.

Based in Fredericia, Denmark, in total the company has 200 employees. A2SEA says its turnover is expected to have grown significantly in 2008, reaching more than DKK 400 million (US$ 70 million).

‘In response to the core challenges, wind energy can already provide answers now that will stand the test of time’

Aloys Wobben, Founder and Managing Director of Enercon

Enercon GmBh: Turbine and renewable energy technology manufacturer

Novel techhnology and a strong engineering heritage keep this company in the leading pack of turbine manufacturers

Turbine manufacturer Enercon offers some of the most technologically advanced machines available. Graduate engineer Aloys Wobben founded the privately held company in 1984, when a small team developed the first wind turbine, the 55 kW E-15/16. Initially featuring a gearbox, gearless technology was introduced in 1992 with the first Enercon E-40, a 500 kW machine. The company’s current flagship model is the new 6 MW wind turbine, the E-126, featuring segmented rotor blades and a 127-metre rotor diameter. Enercon is currently installing E-126 turbines in Germany and Belgium, where a total of 11 of the machines are anticipated to be in service by the end of the year. The company says it will be also testing several types of storage systems in combination with the turbines.

The longstanding leader in the German market, where it has installed more than 6900 turbines, equivalent to more than 8 GW, there are more than 13,000 Enercon machines installed worldwide in over 30 countries, with a combined capacity of more than 15 GW. It now has a 14% share of the global market, according to BTM Consult ApS. In 2008/2009, Enercon reached an export share of more than 60% of its manufacturing capacity, a proportion which it intends to gradually increase over the coming years. Indeed, rotor blade manufacture for its big volume E-82 machine is due to commence in 2010 at its new site in northern Portugal. The plant is next to the company’s mechatronics facility in Lanheses where the production of E-modules and generators for E-82 turbines is also due to start in early this year. Today, the company say, directly or indirectly, it employs more than 11,000 people worldwide. More recently, the company launched another example of its innovative approach to renewable energy with its so-called E-Ship1. Propulsion for the vessel will be partly supplied by four sailing rotors – large, rotating, vertical metal cylinders, 25 metres tall.

‘We have completed our exit from non-core activities … Gamesa Corporación Tecnológica is concentrating fully on wind energy’

Guillermo Ulacia Arnaiz, Chairman and CEO of Gamesa

Gamesa Corporación Tecnológica: Wind turbine manufacturer, project developer and operator

With a new focus on installing and operating wind capacity, gamesa has emerged as a player with massive wind development portfolio

Formerly a diversified technology company with a large solar division, Spanish major Gamesa is now completely focused on wind power. It is the market leader in Spain and in 2007 claimed a share of the more than 15% of the global wind turbine manufacturing sector.

To date, the company has installed over 13 GW of its main turbine products across 20 countries and has a development portfolio of more than 21 GW of wind in Europe, America and Asia. According to its latest results, published late October, it has supply chain of more than 3600 MW of capacity, and has maintained its order portfolio above 11,500 MW to 2012. Turnover grew by 40% compared to the first nine months of 2007, to reach €2.89 billion. Tripling overall net profit – to reach €288 million in the first nine months of 2008 – profit from both the Wind Turbine Generator and Wind Farm Units rose by a more modest but still perfectly healthy 67%. A good part of the additional cash came from the sale of its solar unit to a private equity group early in 2008 for a total of €261 million.

The company currently has 32 production centres located in Spain, China and the United States, with an international workforce of over 7000 employees. Of the close to 3 GW of turbine capacity sold over the first three quarters of 2008, 90% were sold in Gamesa’s three strategic markets of Europe, the USA and China.

Recent technology highlights include the on-going development of its new 4.5 MW machine, the Gamesa G10x.

‘We believe wind power is becoming a mainstream power source’

Victor Abate, Vice President of Renewables for GE Energy

GE Energy: Turbine and renewable technology manufacturer, project operator, service provider

Manufacturers of the world’s best selling turbine, GE brings big business credentials to the wind sector

GE first entered the wind sector in 2002 and has, by any standards, achieved remarkable results. Late last year the company announced the shipment of its 10,000th 1.5 MW wind turbine. Collectively these machines have now accumulated more than 130 million operating hours, an industry milestone, and produced more than 78 TWh, GE says.

With six wind manufacturing and assembly facilities in Germany, Spain, China, Canada and the United States, the company offers wind turbines rated from 1.5–2.5 MW, support services, operations and maintenance.

Part of the giant GE Energy – in the nine months to September 2008 GE’s Energy Infrastructure division recorded revenues of over US$27 billion – the wind technology arm of the company is headed by Victor Abate.

GE Energy’s latest commercial wind turbine is the 2.5xl, the company’s largest available for onshore applications with a 100 metre rotor diameter. In October, it announced an expansion of its manufacturing facility in Salzbergen, Germany, to allow serial production of the 2.5xl, a move focused on meeting the strong demand for wind energy in Europe, where customers generally prefer larger multi-megawatt class turbine models.

Also last year GE Drivetrain Technologies – part of the company’s Transportation division – unveiled a novel hybrid gearbox and generator for its 1.5 MW workhorse machine and those of other manufacturers. The drivetrain concept, named IntegraDrive, is significantly smaller than current designs and saves an estimated 2 tonnes of gearbox mass.

In recent deals, GE will supply Invenergy with 750 MW of wind turbines for North American projects to be constructed in 2010. In January 2008, it announced a similar agreement to provide 600 MW to Invenergy.

‘Iberdrola has a strategy that ensures sustainable growth and a solid balance sheet’

Ignacio Galán, Chairman of Iberdrola

Iberdrola Renovables S.A: Developer, owner and operator

One of Europe’s largest generators of renewable capacity, Iberdrola plans to double its capacity to 18 GW by 2012

Iberdrola is one of the world’s largest utilities and is also a major developer of renewable energy through its Valencia-based Iberdrola Renovables.

Concerned with the development, construction and operation of renewable power plants – mostly wind but with some small hydro, solar and others – it also manages the sale of the electric power produced.

The company reported an installed capacity of 8488 MW at the end of the third quarter 2008, representing year-on-year growth of more than 70%. Of this, 8146 MW was wind capacity and the group is the top-ranked wind player in Spain and Greece, as well as second in the US and UK – following its acquisition of utility group ScottishPower.

Iberdrola Renovables claims both the largest base of operational renewable assets – producing more than 12 TWh over the nine-month period – and the largest portfolio of future projects in the world, with more than 54 GW in the pipeline. The current portfolio reveals its top three markets, with 4450 MW operating in Spain, 2318 MW in the US and 617 MW in the UK. Operating in a total of 20 countries, the rest of the world includes 761 MW of wind and overall 44% of the company’s installed capacity is located outside of Spain.

The company’s strategic plan for 2008–2012 envisages investment of more than €18 billion over the next five years in order to more than double its installed renewable capacity to 18 GW. This is from an initial renewables capacity of little more than 1 GW in 2001.

Net profit in the third quarter of 2008 was close to five times that of the previous year’s equivalent quarter and, at €230 million, more than the total for 2007. In addition to a 4.5 GW deal with Gamesa, other recent financial highlights include the placement of a €1 billion bond issue in January 2009.

‘It is important to prepare for post-2009 growth precisely at this time’

Thomas Richterich, Nordex AG founder and CEO

Nordex AG: Wind turbine manufacturer

Focused on larger machines, this manufacturer continues to invest in new production assets in readiness or a post-downturn boom

Nordex offers a range of multi-megawatt wind turbine products from 1.5 to 2.5 MW, including a turbine suited for offshore applications. Aiming to benefit from the global trend towards larger machines, the group also offers three different rotor sizes – up to a diameter of 100 metres – for its 2.5 MW turbine to suit a range of applications.

To date Nordex has produced some 1000 machines in this class and has installed a total of around 3500 turbines with a combined capacity of close to 4330 MW.

With exports accounting for over 90% of its business, the company has offices and subsidiaries in 18 countries and currently employs a workforce of more than 2000 worldwide, an increase of around 39% over 2007.

In its latest results, published for the nine months to September 2008, sales had climbed by 58% since January to more that €781 million. Around 95% of this revenue was generated outside Germany, although order intake slowed substantially in the third quarter of 2008.

Earnings increased by 60% to €37.3 million in the first nine months. However, the cost of materials increased, chiefly as a result of provisions set aside to cover the cost of reinforcements for rotor sets. Orders are valued at €796 million, a slight decrease compared to the previous year, though for the year as a whole, Nordex is projecting sales of €1.1 billion.

Production rose considerably. Turbine assembly output surged by 47% to 764 MW compared to the previous year’s 520 MW, while rotor blade production was up by as much as 69%, rising from 250 to 422 MW. Nordex is also busy expanding manufacturing capacity in China and the USA. For example, in October Nordex announced plans to invest $100 million in a 750 MW annual capacity US manufacturing facility in Jonesboro, in Arkansas.

Turning to 2009, the company expects slower growth for the sector as some customers find it more difficult to obtain finance for their wind farm projects in the wake of the financial crisis. While there is a risk of projects being postponed, Nordex nonetheless projects sales growth of 10%–15% in 2009.

CEO Thomas Richterich says: ‘Now of all times, it would be negligent not to prepare ourselves for years of strong growth after the possible temporary lull in 2009.’

‘The future of wind energy in Europe will be found to a large extent on the open seas’

Per Hornung Pedersen, CEO of REpower Systems

REpower Systems AG

Developer of 2–3.3 MW onshore turbines and a large offshore machine, this major manufacturer is majority held by fellow wind turbine player suzlon

REpower is one of the leading turbine producers in the German wind energy sector where it is the third largest manufacturer.

Founded in 2001, the REpower product range includes turbines between 2 MW–5 MW and to date, its machines have been installed at more than 1500 wind projects. The REpower 5M 5 MW turbine – currently one of the largest in the world with a rotor diameter of 126 metres – has been designed primarily for offshore wind farms and the company is currently installing three of its new 6 MW 6M turbines onshore in Germany. In December 2008 the company completed the assembly of these first three prototype turbines in Bremerhaven.

With approximately 1600 employees, REpower has offices in Germany along with subsidiaries and associated companies in France, Spain, the UK, Greece, Australia, China, Portugal, Italy and elsewhere and the company is actively pursuing an internationalization strategy.

However, due to an expected slow-down of the wind energy market in 2009 – which might be reflected in a stagnating or even slightly declining number of new installations – REpower has adjusted its sales growth forecast for 2009-2010 from the previous estimated 40%–50% to 30%–35%.

According to its results to 30 September 2008, the company’s order backlog amounted to 683 turbines with a total rated power of more than 1434 MW, corresponding to around €1.5 billion, (up from €1.2 billion on the previous year’s figures). For the current fiscal year REpower is expecting an increase in sales to €1.1 billion and an earnings margin of 5.5%–6.5%. Sales in the current reporting period stands at €529.8 million, compared with €275.3 million to the corresponding period in 2007. Net profit rose from €5.0 million to €14.4 million.

REpower expects further strong growth on the global wind energy market in the next years, initiated primarily from Europe and America, Furthermore, the company expects its offshore business to grow, citing 1500 MW installed by 2011 as ‘reasonable’.

In November, REpower and Deutsche Offshore Testfeld und Infrastrukturgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG (DOTI) signed a contract for the supply and installation of six 5M wind turbines for the Alpha Ventus project. The installation of the turbines is expected to begin in the middle of July.

‘RES and the renewable industry stand ready to supply the sustainable solutions necessary to secure our energy supplies as well as our climate’

Dr Ian Mays MBE, CEO of RES

Renewable Energy Systems Ltd: Renewable energy developer, constructor and operator

An independent project developer, the bulk of this company’s developments are in the US. RES is also looking to expand its offshore portfolio

Part of the privately held Sir Robert McAlpine Group, a major UK construction and civil engineering company, core activity at Renewable Energy Systems (RES) is the development, design, construction, financing and operation of wind farm projects worldwide. Since its first wind installation in 1992 the company has completed a portfolio of more than 3600 MW of wind capacity and has several thousand megawatts in development. RES is also an independent power producer, owning and operating more than 300 MW of wind capacity worldwide.

Current developments are led by North America and the Caribbean, where RES has built 3071 MW of wind capacity and has a further 382 MW under construction. In Scandinavia and Europe RES has built 558 MW of wind and has a further 455 MW under construction, while in Australia and New Zealand a further 436 MW are in development.

With around 600 employees globally and offices in seven countries, recent highlights include the January announcement that its US arm has completed the 166 MW $350 million Hackberry wind project in Texas. In the offshore wind sector, RES has taken a positive long term view on its potential and has a dedicated team of development, engineering and offshore construction specialists. In last October the company received consent for its 250 MW Lincs wind farm off the UK and completed major construction work on the adjacent Lynn and Inner Dowsing projects.

‘The launch of RWE Innogy is another significant part of our plans to deliver a lower carbon future’

Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt, CEO of RWE Innogy

RWE Innogy GmbH: Renewable energy developers, owners and operators

Newly emerged from the German giant RWE, the company is looking to invest at least €1 billion annually on renewable energy in Europe

RWE Innogy is the renewables development arm of the mighty RWE AG, one of Europe’s top flight utilities. Created at the beginning of last year, the new business group took over the majority of the installed renewables generation capacity from RWE Power, RWE npower and RWE Energy.

The company plans, builds and operates renewable facilities, and aims to vigorously grow its capacity in its core market of Europe with a focus on mature technologies such as wind.

Especially strong in the home market of Germany and in the UK, the company started with 1100 MW of capacity. Currently the renewables group is operating approximately 620 MW of wind, including 60 MW offshore, the North Hoyle project off the coast of Wales (UK). A further 90 MW offshore is currently being commissioned at Rhyl Flats – also off Wales – RWE Innogy has also acquired a 50% stake in the UK’s 140 turbine 500 MW Greater Gabbard project.

The expansion of onshore and offshore wind power capacities will remain the driver for RWE Innogy’s growth in the future, they say, revealing plans to more than quadruple production to some 4500 MW by 2012 and to more than 10 GW by 2020. Construction is planned of 4 GW of wind with a focus on organic growth and the company is busy securing turbines and components through framework contracts, for instance a pending deal with REpower for 250 of its 5M and 6M wind turbines for offshore wind farms. Another two hundred 2 MW-class onshore wind turbines will be added to this from 2010. Similar agreements are currently being negotiated with other turbine manufacturers, RWE Innogy says.

‘We believe the 3 MW and 5 MW systems we will jointly develop with Windtec will allow Sinovel to grow its market share and position us as a technology leader in the industry.’

Han Junliang, chairman and president, Sinovel Wind Corporation Limited

This emerging powerhouse is already among the world’s top ten largest turbine manufacturers and is poised to take advantage of massive growth in its home market.

The leading manufacturer of large-scale wind turbines in China, Sinovel has made remarkable progress since its formation in 2005, already clocking up a top ten place in the global wind turbine manufacturing hierarchy. Sinovel was the first company to introduce 1.5 MW and 3 MW machines into the country.

To date Sinovel has produced more than 1500 units of its 1.5 MW machine and has a production capacity of more than 1000 units per year. Its manufacturing base is currently located in Dalian, China, although it is in the process of commissioning new manufacturing plants in Inner Mongolia and Jiangsu and plans to reach an annual manufacturing capacity of 2000 turbines before 2010. It is also engaged in localizing the supply chain of major turbine components and currently sources around 90% of the requirements for its self-developed 1.5 MW machine domestically, including electrical components that AMSC manufactures in China.

Headquartered in Beijing, and the company has over 1000 employees with three years’ development.
In March 2007, AMSC announced that it had signed a multi-million dollar contract with Sinovel under the terms of which 3 MW and 5 MW series wind turbines are to be jointly developed for both on and offshore applications. Series production of the 3 MW machine is anticipated to begin this year with production of the 5 MW device planned for 2010. Sinovel will retain exclusive ownership and complete industrial and intellectual property rights for wind turbines developed under this contract.

In June 2008 AMSC received a $450 million order for core electrical components for Sinovel 1.5 MW turbines. The contract called for shipments to begin this January and increase year-over-year through to the contract’s completion in December 2011. This followed an April 2008 order worth more than $18 million for wind turbine electrical systems and core electrical components to be installed in the newly developed 3 MW turbines.

In March 2007, AMSC announced that it had signed a multi-million dollar contract with Sinovel under the terms of which 3 MW and 5 MW series wind turbines are to be jointly developed for both on and offshore applications. Series production of the 3 MW machine is anticipated to begin this year with production of the 5 MW device planned for 2010. Sinovel will retain exclusive ownership and complete industrial and intellectual property rights for wind turbines developed under this contract.

‘We are today in the midst of navigating through a challenging economic landscape’

Tulsi R. Tanti, Chairman and Managing Director of Suzlon Energy Ltd.

Suzlon Energy Limited: Turbine manufacturer, developer

Already at the top table for turbine manufacturers, Suzlon has consolidated by acquiring a majority holding in fellow turbine company REpower

With 10.5% of the global market share for turbines, according BTM Consult ApS, Suzlon ranks as the world’s fifth largest manufacturer in the sector. Operating in 20 countries the company has 13 manufacturing facilities in India, Belgium, China and the USA. The company was established in 1995 with 20 people and has now grown to have a workforce of over 13,000. The market leader in India, where it has developed more than 3 GW, Suzlon has installed more than 8 GW of capacity since its inception, which emerged from the Tanti textiles business. Suzlon has grown more than 100% annually and registered a 108% growth in the financial year ended 2007, the company says.

As part of the company’s business development strategy it has set about reverse-engineering a supply chain, acquiring gearbox company Hansen Transmissions International NV in 2006 – selling on 10% to investment firm Ecofin at the beginning of 2009 – and, more recently, attempting to build on its majority holding in turbine manufacturer REpower Systems AG.

Suzlon’s current product range includes wind turbine generators 350 kW – 2.1 MW in customized versions for installation in a variety of climates though to date the company has no offshore installations. Last year Suzlon announced a retrofit programme on 417 sets of blades for its S-88 2.1 MW machine in order to resolve blade cracking issues discovered on some of its units in the United States. The total estimated cost of the retrofit programme is estimated US$25 million.

Currently with a combined manufacturing base of 2700 MW of annual capacity, it is planning to expand this by 3000 MW to 5700 MW of capacity in the 2008-2009 financial year, although in response to the current conditions it has also cancelled planned expenditure on a tower manufacturing facility in India.

In its latest results, the half year to 30 September, the company reported sales growth of more than 35% on the previous year’s corresponding figures. Consolidated revenues, excluding the contributions from Hansen and REpower, came in at of Rs 6268 crore ($1.25 billion), the combined consolidated order book stood at more than $3 billion, while profit after tax stood at Rs 123 crore ($24.6 million).

In recent developments, this January the company announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the government of Gujarat and a subsidiary to develop wind power projects of up to 1500 MW in the Kutch-Saurashtra region of the state.

‘The market continues to show its strength and commitment to renewable energy’

Ditlev Engel, President and CEO Vestas

Vestas Wind Systems A/S: Wind turbine manufacturer

A long-time leader in the wind sector, Vestas continues to expand its market reach on the back of robust long-term prospects for the sector

Vestas installed its first wind turbine in 1979 and now employs more than 19,000 people. It is currently recruiting on the back of what it describes as ‘robust long-term growth prospects.’ Claiming an anticipated market share of 25% for 2008, more than 35,500 of its machines are currently installed across 63 countries.

The company’s product portfolio comprises turbine models from 850 kW to 3 MW. In its latest results the company does anticipate a lower-than-planned rate of utilisation in 2009, with the result that a number of new employments have been postponed. These are expected to resume as soon as the present credit squeeze decreases and the earnings margin is expected to rise to 11%-13% in 2009. This compares with anticipated 2008 figures of 10%-12% on projected annual revenue of €5.7 billion. Total investments in 2009 are expected to amount to €1.2 billion, of which €1 billion will be invested in property, plant and equipment, primarily in factories in the USA, Spain and China and R&D centres in Denmark and the UK. Between the fourth quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2010, Vestas plans to increase its total manufacturing capacity by 3000 MW, bringing its annual potential to 10 GW. Work conducted under warranty provisions is expected to fall to 3%-4% of revenue in 2009 owing to ‘improved turbine reliability.’ This is down from an expected 4%-5% of revenue in 2008.

As well as reliability improvements, in another high point last year Vestas also managed to resolve a long-running patent dispute with Enercon GmbH and its head Aloys Wobben.

Active both on and offshore, recent contracts include a number of deals in China, where two orders with a total capacity of 100 MW are to be delivered to two wind power projects this year to an undisclosed developer. This followed a repeat order from China Guangdong Nuclear Wind Power Co. Ltd, on this occasion for 116 of its 850 kW machines, also for delivery in 2009.

The company also recently secured an order to supply 100 of its V90 3 MW turbine for the 300 MW Thanet Offshore Wind Farm in the UK’s Thames Estuary. Vestas has also received an order for delivery of 67 x V90-3.0 MW wind turbines for Romania from S.C. Ewind S.R.L and S.C. Wind Power Park S.R.L., Romania.

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