Developers also ordered a fair number of units in the US, which has emerged from last year's production tax credit battle and is moving forward, but with a limp.
But thanks to robust activity in Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay and Chile, turbine deals were stronger in Latin America than in the north. In fact, information captured by Windpower Intelligence and Data (WPI) in Q1 reveals that Latin America was the only region worldwide where the number of turbine purchase agreements grew year on year. This confirms many analysts' predictions that the centre of gravity in the Americas' wind sector is shifting south. WPI spotted more than 1.2GW of Latin American contracts across eight countries during the first three months of the year.
Latin America is providing a good climate for wind. There is a growing consensus that macroeconomic trends will spur demand for electricity, thus propelling new wind projects. The January-to-March period was characterised by greater activity across nearly the entire spectrum of pipeline development: there were more new project announcements than in the same period in 2012, more site acquisitions, more permitting and so on, all the way to commissions. Only power purchase agreements and construction completions dropped. This intensity was only matched by Asia-Pacific, where project activity was better mainly due to a burst in permit starts.
Globally, WPI saw more turbines from Vestas, Siemens and GE commissioned in Q1 than by any other manufacturers (see charts on previous page). But the breakdown of worldwide contracts during the same period shows that smaller rivals are in hot pursuit: although Siemens came in second with 642MW, Gamesa took first place with 847MW of contracts and Alstom finished 3rd with 593MW.
The sector has maintained an even keel into the second quarter, but the outlook is patchy. If the current installation trend in the US persists, the country will put only two thirds of last year's capacity online. Luckily for the industry, US installations tend to explode in the fourth quarter. A cloud still hovers above turbine purchase agreements everywhere but Latin America, where in May the number of contracts doubled year on year.