Nordex increased its turbine sales by a third, recording EUR1.1 billion-worth of new orders in 2011, up 32% from EUR836 million in 2010. The firm's year-on-year growth in orders was boosted by a strong fourth quarter (Q4), with EUR400 million of new business won during Q4 2011, compared with EUR306m in the last three months of 2010.
Originally, Nordex had projected growth in orders of 20%, to EUR1 billion for 2011. In November, following strong performance in previous quarters, the firm raised its forecast for full-year new orders to the 32% figure that was achieved.
A statement issued by Nordex in January, ahead of publication of full annual results in April, said the manufacturers benefited from a strong position in Europe, which accounted for around 77% of its 2011 order intake. A further 21% of new business came from the US, where the group recorded a sharp increase in order receipts, particularly in Q4, totalling EUR191 million for 2011.
"On the strength of this good performance, we assume the volume of firmly financed order backlog has risen from EUR411 million in the previous year to EUR700 million at the beginning of 2012," said Nordex chief executive Thomas Richterich.
Falling turbine prices and a subsequent drop in profit margins in GE's wind business acted as a "drag" on the entire company's profits, according to GE chief financial officer Keith Sherin.
Renewable-energy orders in the fourth quarter of 2011 were $2 billion, up by 53% compared with the same period in 2010, with 1,023 wind turbines ordered compared with 477 in Q4 2010. Revenue for renewables was $1.6 billion, up 15% on the fourth quarter of 2010, with 688 wind turbines shipped versus 592 in the last quarter of 2010. For the entire year, GE shipped 1,956 turbines, up 5% year on year.
However, GE's overall profit for the energy sector in the fourth quarter was down 3% on the previous year at $1.67 billion and Sherin, speaking to analysts at a results presentation, blamed this fall on the wind sector, saying that growth in both order and sales volumes had failed to make up for the fall in turbine prices and profit margins.
Siemens, meanwhile, saw orders received by its renewable-energy business increase by 16% in 2011 and revenue up by 20%. The firm described its wind-power business as having a solid performance for 2011, despite continuing pricing pressures, "as the market matures and grows more competitive, most notably for onshore projects".
However, losses suffered by the firm's solar business totalling EUR231 million meant that Siemens' renewable division suffered a EUR2 million loss in 2011, compared with a EUR343 million profit a year earlier.
The only other turbine manufacturer to post initial 2011 figures as Windpower Monthly went to press was Vestas (see page 15). The firm secured 7.4GW in orders during 2011 thanks in large part to a flurry of contract announcements at the end of the year.
During the last two working days of 2011, Vestas announced seven new orders totalling 564MW for projects in Europe, Brazil and Pakistan. The latter was the manufacturer's first sale to Pakistan. Of the seven deals announced on 29 and 30 December, by far the largest was for 127 units of Vestas V100-2.0MW turbines to be deployed across two projects in Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, totalling 254MW.
The 7.4GW of new orders during 2011 was in line with Vestas' prediction of 7-8GW of new orders, but still substantially lower than the 8.67GW it recorded for 2010.