The biggest story last week was Gamesa's decision to pull its offshore R&D programme from the US and move it to the Canary Islands. This week's biggest story was on the job cuts Gamesa is making in its home market as a result of falling government support. It should come as no surprise — Gamesa CEO Jorge Calvet threatened to do this last year. Orders in Gamesa's home market have slowed to a trickle in recent years.
What is notable is that — unlike Vestas, which has been cutting jobs across the board — Gamesa has also been hiring elsewhere. Globally, its head count actually rose during 2010/11. Proof for the policy makers that wind manufacturers need to set up 'where the action is'.
One company that is looking to expand is Sany Electric. This week the Chinese manufacturer sold four 10MW projects using its 2MW turbines to the Yeland Group, a Chinese real estate developer. Yeland said the deal was part of a strategic agreement between the two and hinted it would be adding further wind projects to its portfolio.
What is interesting about Sany is — unlike Goldwind which is also present in the US — Sany is a relatively minor player in the Chinese market. According to 2011's market share, Sany came only 17th place in China below foriegn OEMs like Gamesa and GE.
Since Goldwind's end-of-2010 acquisition of the 100MW+ Shady Oaks wind project in Illinois, news about China's manufacturers expanding overseas have been more common. One story that broke mid-last year, was of a Sinovel securing a 1GW deal to supply Irish developer Mainstream Renewables with turbines for projects in Ireland. Soon afterwards, Mainstream put the deal on hold as a result of the punch-up between Sinovel and AMSC.
Today the deal looks more than a little shaky. Mainstream revealed yesterday that while it was awaiting a resolution to the legal battle, it had made preparations to drop Sinovel from the deal. Indeed, Sinovel has already lost out to Enercon on one Irish project, while another is coming up for tender in the summer. Incidentally, Windpower Monthly is still waiting for a response from Sinovel on whether the contract is still alive.
The efforts of a French anti-wind group to disrupt the country's onshore tariff could be coming off. Vent de Colère, an association opposed to industrial-scale wind power has challenged the legality of the tariff and has suceeded in forcing the country's high court to pass the case on to the European Court of Justice. If the group's move is successful, it could be catastrophic for the French wind industry.
It's worth remembering that a previous decree, issued in 2006, was annulled on a technicality in 2008 by the administrative court at the demand of Vent de Colère.
Off with Offshore
Finally, offshore came briefly into the news this week when Nordex chief executive Jurgen Zeschky revealed the rationale behind taking an axe to the company's offshore programme. Here is what he said:
"This is because it is currently not clear if and when our investments in the offshore segment would have yielded a return. On the other hand, there are numerous growth markets in the onshore business. This is underlined by our strong order intake in the first quarter of 2012."
What is interesting is this comes as Vestas reined in its own offshore turbine for the same reasons. See also Gamesa's decision to remove its offshore turbine from the US. At the end of the day it always comes down to market demand, it's just that some are more optimistic than others.
Incidentally, Nordex recorded an 8.3% increase in sales to €198.3 million in the first quarter of 2012, up from €183.1 million in the first quarter of 2011. However, it made a loss on these revenues of €9 million, which the firm blamed on below-average capacity utilisation and lower margins on projects.