How coronavirus is impacting China’s wind energy industry

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak will impact the supply chain and installation operations in China’s wind energy industry, as well as the global wind industry, according to a report from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and Chinese Wind Energy Association (CWEA).

GWEC Market Intelligence interviewed six Chinese turbine OEMs (which collectively held more than 75% of Chinese market share in 2018), one foreign turbine OEM, one utility, one stock-listed independent power producer, five component suppliers and one material supplier based in China.

GWEC concluded that while the virus will impact supply chain and installation operations, the slowdown will not be as significant as reported by some industry observers (for example predicting a halving of China’s installations in 2020). China has the largest wind power capacity in the world. In 2018, China and North America combined made up about 50% of the world’s total installed wind generation capacity.

All respondents confirmed that operations have resumed following the extended Chinese New Year holiday.

The major Chinese turbine OEMs (Goldwind, Envision, Mingyang, Shanghai Electric, CSIC Haizhuang, DEC and CRRC) and three foreign turbine OEMs (Vestas, Siemens Gamesa and GE Renewable Energy) all reported they resumed production in the week beginning Feb. 10. Other component manufacturers – including NGC, Winergy, ZF (wind gearbox producers), Yongji (China’s largest generator supplier) and Vertiv (a wind power converter exporter) –  also confirmed that they resumed operations in the same week.

China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) has initiated an industry survey on the impact of COVID-19. The aim will be to assess the value of extending the onshore wind feed-in-tariff deadline set to expire on Dec. 31, 2020. If an extension is approved, it is expected that the number of onshore wind projects capable of capitalizing on the FIT will not be revised, as the industry will rush to install projects within the extended deadline.

Impact on global supply chain is limited

GWEC Market Intelligence sees relatively less international impact of COVID-19. The World Health Organisation has not issued a warning on cargo transport vessels from China. It is also unlikely that countries will impose a unilateral import ban on Chinese goods as a precautionary measure for the virus.

For foreign turbine OEMs with facilities in China, their concerns center on stabilizing the flow of local components and increasing workforce capacity, which will affect their production output in February and March. If these challenges cannot be resolved soon, foreign turbine OEMs that export to the U.S. and Asia-Pacific markets from China are capable of mobilizing their global footprint, employing untapped capacity in countries such as India to ensure they meet demand.

GWEC is a member-based organization that represents the wind energy sector, with members representing over 1,500 companies, organizations and institutions in more than 80 countries.

CWEA’s mission is to function as a window of Chinese wind society to the world, promoting international academic and technical cooperation, bridging the government and enterprises, establishing good relationships with domestic and overseas wind societies, and building the consensus of the public toward renewable energy. 

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