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Wind's newest, biggest player

To the list of Vestas and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, GE and Alstom, Nordex and Acciona, we can now add Siemens and Gamesa (p10).

The process of consolidation is speeding up as the major OEMs merge their businesses, aiming for the economies of scale that will help drive down the costs of wind-generated electricity.

The announcement of the Siemens-Gamesa deal on 17 June did not come as a huge surprise. That the two companies had been in negotiation for several months was an open secret, though clearly the talks had advanced further than most industry observers had recognised.

But it is the sheer scale of this merger that breaks new ground, bringing together two of the world's top ten wind turbine manufacturers to create a EUR10 billion business with nearly 70GW in operating assets across most of the world's major wind markets.

Siemens CEO Joe Kaesar described the deal as "the best possible strategic fit in the wind power industry", an acknowledgement that while Siemens is particularly strong in the offshore sector and in established onshore European markets, Gamesa is much better-placed in the most important emerging markets, especially India and Latin America.

But there is still considerable overlap between the two companies' product ranges. Attention has understandably focused on the future of Adwen, the offshore joint venture between Gamesa and Areva, which has reached an advanced stage in the development of a new 8MW turbine, a direct competitor to Siemens 7MW unit. The smart money in the industry is now being placed on GE to absorb this business.

However, both Siemens and Gamesa also make onshore turbines that are similar in concept and capacity, including 3.3MW machines aimed at lowand medium-wind sites. Whether the new joint venture can justify the production and development of two different designs for the same market sector remains to be seen.

Opposite emotions

It would be hard to find two well-established wind markets with such different moods and expectations as the US and Germany right now. Buoyed by the certainty of support over the next five years, the US showed a bright, confident face at New Orleans for AWEA's annual event.

There were one or two reality checks, the increasingly competitive costs of solar chief among them, but delegates were generally upbeat and optimistic.

Contrast that to Germany, where the industry has been gathering in the streets rather than the conference halls to protest federal legislation that cuts back wind development.

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