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Windpower Monthly's round-up of 2012

As Windpower Monthly winds down for the end-of-year holidays, we leave you with a round-up of some of 2012's best read -- if not most important -- wind-energy stories from both the magazine and the website over the last year.

Clockwise from top left - Ming Yang turbine collapse, Alstom Haliade, Vestas V112, Vertiwind's 35kW prototype
Clockwise from top left - Ming Yang turbine collapse, Alstom Haliade, Vestas V112, Vertiwind's 35kW prototype

January

Signalling a difficult 2012 for the world's number turbine manufacture, Vestas issues its second profit warning in three months as it reveals unforeseen development costs of €125 million largely associated with the development of its V112-3.0MW turbine.

Vattenfall's 300MW Thanet offshore wind farm off the UK coast is forced to run a reduced service as a result of a cable fault. At the time, it was the world's largest offshore wind farm.

February

Vestas parts company with its offshore chief Hans Jorn Rieks only three weeks after appointing him to the position. Vestas is unable to comment on the exact reasons behind Rieks' leaving the company other than to say it was a "board-level decision". He is temporarily replaced by Vestas chief executive Ditlev Engel. Rieks' is just one of a number of high-level Vestas board members to suddenly leave the company this month.

Wind turbine prices continue to fall with manufacturers particularly at risk from falling margins, according to new research. BNEF's Wind Turbine Price Index (WTPI) covering 2H 2011, found prices had fallen to €0.91 million, with older models, including the GE 1.5MW, Vestas V90, being particularly badly hit in terms of price falls.

March

Alstom is in negotiations with Suzlon to buy Repower for €1.5 billion, according to a report in the German business press. Apparently a recent refinancing plan undertaken for Suzlon by Morgan Stanley is being used to compile business data to enable the sale of Repower. It said the move was being forced on Suzlon by its own financial concerns. The concerns are still there for Suzlon, as is Repower.

Vestas continues to hold onto its top spot in the in the league of the world's biggest wind turbine manufacturers, according to research analysts BTM. Vestas has a 12.9% share of the market, with Goldwind leaping into second place with a 9.4% share. They are followed by GE on 8.8%. Gamesa moved up to fourth with 8.2%.

April

A fire, which destroyed Vestas' new V112 turbine, occurs at the 51MW Gross Eilstorf wind farm in Lower Saxony, Germany.  Eventually, an investigation revealed the fire was caused by a loose connection in the electrical system.

Goldwind is working on a 10MW turbine, according to its annual report for 2011, along with a number of other wind turbines. Like many such plans, the turbine is still to come to fruition. http://www.windpowermonthly.com/news/1128827/Goldwind-developing-10MW-wind-turbin

May

More Vestas issues. It admits there are problems with its 376 of its V90 3MW gearboxes while announcing a net loss of €162 million euros for Q1 2012. At the same time, it said says it is slowing the development of the V164 with he first prototype for the turbine planned for 2014. It was due to come out in 2013.

Enercon plans construction on the biggest concentration to date of its 7.5MW turbine the E-126.

June

A second Vestas turbine in as many months catches fire. Only shortly after tackling a nacelle fire on one of its V112-3.0MW turbines in Germany in April, the Danish manufacturer has had to contend with another fire, this time on one of its V90-2MW machines in Spain.

The 2MW Vertiwind turbine, one of the largest vertical axis turbines ever built is set to be constructed in the south of France, as part of a €40 million project to design a floating offshore wind turbine.  Windpower Monthly features an update on the project in December.

July

Skills shortage, what skills shortage? Siemens receives over 1000 applications for 37 apprenticeships at its UK energy service division but struggled to fill them as many of the candidates' core educational skills were not good enough.

Windpower Monthly technical writer Eize de Vries visits France to view Alstom's 6MW Haliade turbine.

In Italy, a 90MW wind farm is among the property seized by anti-mafia investigators investigating money laundering in the south of the country.

August

Vestas confirms it is in talks with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) over a potential partnership deal. In a statement on its website, Vestas said it could "confirm that there is an ongoing dialogue between the two companies regarding a potential strategic cooperation". As of late-December, the neither company has announced any progress on this.  Vestas also announces it is cutting a further 1,400 jobs in addition to the 2,335 job cuts revealed at the start of the year.

Chinese-owned Envision Energy launches the E128, a 3.6MW two-bladed direct drive offshore wind turbine machine.

September

A Ming Yang 1.5MW wind turbine collapses in the course of commissioning, killing one and injuring three, in north-west China's Xinjiang province. Ming Yang said that according to preliminary analysis, the tower fell because the foundation bolts were not properly fastened in the course of turbine installation.

Fuhrlander files for insolvency, citing cash flow problems resulting from project delays. The move comes despite a recent takeover by a Ukrainian consortium. The company filed for insolvency at the local court of Montabaur, Rhineland, Germany.

October

Norwegian company Sway Turbine reveals details about its upcoming 10MW offshore turbine, the ST10.

Back to the future for GE Energy, which is to return to doubly fed induction generators (DFIG's) 10 years after ditching the technology for permanent magnet generators (PMGs).

Gamesa reveals plans to cut 20% of its global workforce between now and Q1 2013 as part of a global restructuring plan.

November

A small wind farm withstood Hurricane Sandy after 90 mph winds smashed into the New Jersey coast.  In the event, there were a number of wind farms on the east coast that held up to the conditions. However, this one had got thousands of hits on a webcam viewing the project.

A series of arson attacks at a 190MW wind farm under construction in northern Tunisia has led to 75 wind turbines being taken offline. As yet, the police are unsure of the motives behind the attacks.

Obama wins but does wind? Obama, the country's most wind-friendly president ever, was re-elected albeit only with a 50-49% margin that some said gives him a scant mandate. As of now, the PTC is set to expire in days. http://www.windpowermonthly.com/news/1158518/Obama-wins-second-term---does-wind-win

December

Siemens installs the first prototype of its 4MW SWT-4.0 offshore wind turbine at a Jutland test site for large wind turbines in Østerild, Denmark. Windpower Monthly gets an early look.

Although deaths on during wind turbine installation are falling, a crane operator was killed while installing a Vestas turbine in northern Germany. The incident occurred at a project at Mannhagen, Schleswig-Holstein, when the blade fell on to the crane cabin during installation.

Germany's expanding wind and solar generation are pushing gas power stations off the grid, meaning they operate ever fewer hours per year and are struggling to maintain profitability.

2013

Looking ahead to 2013, we will be watching for an update to the PTC, the latest offshore turbines, and whether the wind industry can stabilise itself after a difficult 2012. For the time being, we hope your own endeavors are as productive and successful as they can be, and wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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