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Top 30 profiles

Seven of the key personalities in Windpower Monthly"s Top 30 list of industry influencers of 2013

Enercon MD Nicole Fritsch-Nehring
Enercon MD Nicole Fritsch-Nehring

1. Nicole Fritsch-Nehring — Enercon MD

(new entry)

Manufacturer

German onshore wind-turbine manufacturer Enercon has become a key player in the country's "Energiewende", the shift from fossil fuels to renewables, since its small beginnings over 20 years ago in the small northern town of Aurich. Nicole Fritsch-Nehring, 38, is now part of the top management team.

As one of three managing directors, she represents the next generation alongside the older hands, Hans-Dieter Kettwig, 55, and Aloys Wobben, who founded the company in 1984 but has withdrawn from active participation for health reasons.

With a degree in economics, Fritsch-Nehring has spent more than 16 years with Enercon in positions of responsibility since joining in 1997 at the age of 22.

She became an authorised signatory in December 2008, and a few months later in March 2009 assumed the role of managing director of Wobben Properties, the company looking after Enercon patents. That was the year when a long-running licencing and patent dispute with the Mehra family, minority stakeholders in Enercon India — now known as Wind World (India) Limited — was in full swing.

The fruits of her work from September 2010, as managing director of Wobben Research & Development, at the centre of Enercon's research, are now evident in the division's restructuring.

The aim, she said, was to reorganise structures that had developed in an evolutionary way as the company grew to improve operational processes and to create a more cost-oriented organisational structure. Changes include standardisation of turbine components and modules so they can be used across the product range. She has also overseen implementation of the new innovation centre near company headquarters in Aurich providing facilities for around 700 engineers.

Her latest promotion to the highest management level came in October last year when placement of the Enercon Group into the Aloys Wobben Foundation was legally finalised and she became managing director of the group and vice-chair of the foundation.

Sara Knight


3. Anne McEntee — GE vice-president for renewable

(new entry)

Manufacturer

As GE's vice president of renewable energy, Anne McEntee, 42, heads the US company that last year knocked Danish Vestas off the spot of world's largest wind turbine manufacturer, according to at least one survey anyway. Her success, say analysts, will be judged simply by the company's wind power sales.

"The end markets will dominate how she is perceived — and that will likely be positive," says Brian Langenberg, founder of financial research firm Langenberg & Co. US-based GE has an advantage in clinching sales, even in a contracting market, because its status as a stable multinational conglomerate engenders buyer confidence.

Dr McEntee (she has a PhD in applied mathematics) succeeded the outspoken Vic Abate in March 2013. Since then, she has not been especially vocal publicly.

Although GE's home market is predicted to enjoy a "mini bubble" next year thanks to a provision that allows wind projects that began construction in 2013 to continue to qualify for production tax credits (PTC), McEntee must show that GE can profit elsewhere as well. Dan Shreve, a partner at Make Consulting, points to what he calls a crucial litmus test. "Can GE maintain its early-mover advantage in Brazil?"

GE's sales in other markets, such as India and the rest of Latin America, especially Mexico, are also important in judging the company's performance under her leadership, he says.

McEntee recognises the challenge. "We are going to continue to explore global opportunities," she said in May. "We go where our customers go."

The youngest of seven children, McEntee was born into GE. Her father worked on the factory floor at GE Silicones, not far from GE Wind's current base in Schenectady, New York.

A 15-year veteran of GE, she was previously president and chief executive of the company's flow and process technologies, part of GE Oil & Gas. Before that, she managed GE's power services division. She became a vice president of GE in March 2011.

Ros Davidson


5. Jürgen Zeschky — Nordex CEO

(new entry)

Manufacturer

When chief executive Thomas Ritterich announced in July 2011 that he would be leaving Nordex, clouds were already gathering on the company's horizon. First-quarter revenue was up by 22% but Nordex was unable to translate this into bottom-line profitability and had posted a loss of EUR1.8 million. It was also facing over-capacity issues in China and an uphill struggle to bring its N150 offshore turbine to fruition.

This was the challenge handed to Jurgen Zeschky when he joined Nordex as CEO in April last year.

An engineer by training, one of Zeschky's first moves was to bring in the company's executives from around the world to formulate a new corporate strategy. Some of the decisions that came out of these meetings - exiting the Chinese market, cutting the N150 turbine, and closing down its nacelle factory in the US - were painful. But the plans went beyond cost-cutting and retrenchment with Zeschky following Enercon's model of targeting the low to medium-wind turbine market.

Arguably, it has been a successful strategy, earning plaudits and sales for the company's newly-created Delta series N117 3MW medium-speed version that was launched earlier this year.

Unlike Enercon, Zeschky's Nordex has remained fearless in its expansion into emerging markets, forging a presence in countries such as Pakistan, Uruguay, South Africa and Turkey.

More importantly, the company now appears to be on a sound financial footing. In August it announced a 57% leap in sales for the first half of 2013, and a raise in its full-year forecast, in contrast to a EUR 13.1 million loss for the same period in 2012.

The only question for the future remains how a player bubbling around the top 10 turbine makers will fare in a market geared towards consolidation.

James Quilter


11. Gabriel Alonso — EDPR North America CEO, AWEA chairman

(new entry)

Developer/utility

The 39-year-old with a law degree and an MSc in economics has more than 15 years experience in the wind industry behind him, including the best part of a decade with Gamesa. He now heads the North American division of EDP Renewables, the US's third largest wind power developer, which operates 27 wind projects across the country.

However, it is Alonso's additional role as the new chairman of the American Wind Energy Association that has pushed him into this year's list of wind power movers and shakers. He made his mark with a powerful opening speech at the AWEA conference in May, where he outlined the association's key strategies.

Alonso made it clear that AWEA has to look further than lobbying policy makers on wind's behalf. He called on the association to develop a more proactive and effective communications plan, to set a clear long-term goal and, most importantly, to mobilise the silent majority of wind energy supporters against the anti-wind vocal minority. According to Alonso up to three-quarters of the American people are in favour of wind energy, although whether "the power of many can outweigh the power of money" remains to be seen.

Shaun Campbell


14. John Eber — JP Morgan Energy Investments MD

(new entry)

Finance/investment

John Eber, managing director at US based JP Morgan Capital Corporation, manages the firm's tax-motivated equity investments in wind and other renewable-energy assets.

Support for wind-energy development in the US centres on the federal production tax credit (PTC), but the challenge has always been that most developers do not have a big enough tax appetite to use it. They have to go out and find investors who can, and JP Morgan has been key to that equation.

In 2003 Eber and his team pioneered the first tax-equity investments in wind, and by the end of last year had amassed an investment portfolio of 10,266MW encompassing 92 wind farms in 20 states.

Eber has also played a key role in bringing other tax-equity investors into the sector, including Google. By investing JP Morgan's own capital and arranging additional funds from co-investors, Eber has been responsible for more than $9 billion of renewable-energy tax-equity financings over the past decade.

With the PTC in place for projects that begin construction this year, JP Morgan is actively looking at additional investments and has already announced a number of new deals.

Diane Bailey


18. Sönke Siegfriedsen — Aerodyn founder/MD

(2012: 5)

Technology

That Sönke Siegfriedsen would emerge as one of the world's most innovative and respected turbine designers first became apparent in 1979 when, as a student, he built a wind-energy system from spare car components and installed it on the roof of Lubeck University in Germany.

Four years later he established Aerodyn Energiesysteme, which has now been designing and developing technologically advanced turbines and blades for some of the industry's biggest players for 30 years.

Although Aerodyn is headquartered in Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany, its most important product development is currently taking place in China. Ming Yang, the first licensee of Aerodyn's super-compact drive technology, is testing a prototype of the radical two-bladed downwind 6.0-6.5MW turbine, designed for offshore use in typhoon-prone seas. The two-blade design allows for a smaller, cheaper gearbox.

The prototype has only just started an 18-month testing programme, so it is too early to say if it will follow in the path of other Aerodyn successes, notably the 5MW Multibrid offshore turbines manufactured by Areva. But Aerodyn's reputation is such that you would not bet against it.

Shaun Campbell

27. Jean-Paul Prates — Cerne president

(new entry)

Political influence

In mid-2012, Jean-Paul Prates signed an agreement between his privately maintained renewable-energy think tank, Cerne, and the Brazilian wind power association Abeeolica to investigate and research the adaptation of the wind-power industry to local conditions, including technology, labour and regulations.

The agreement crowns Prates' work for renewables since being appointed energy secretary of the north-eastern state of Rio Grande do Norte in 2008 when he helped integrate wind power into the state's energy matrix. Even then Prates was already talking about planning transmission to include wind power, an argument that has since been accepted by the national government.

Energy has always been a career focus for Prates but, until the early 2000s, he concentrated first on oil and then on the biofuel sector.

A laywer and economist, he has specialised in energy management in the US and Europe, and worked for the state-run energy company Petrobras and headed Gulf Oil's Brazilian unit. He also worked in several consultancies in the oil sector, including Expetro, in which he was a partner, and he was a member of the board at Brazil's National Oil Agency (ANP), the oil sector regulator.

Alexandre Spatuzza

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