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Review of 2016 - part one

WORLDWIDE: The first half of 2016 was dominated by mergers and acquisitions (M&A) as an agreement to create what would become a 70GW, €10bn OEM was finally agreed. Windpower Monthly takes a look at the biggest stories between January and June 2016.

The merger between Siemens and Gamesa dominated coverage in the first six months of 2016
The merger between Siemens and Gamesa dominated coverage in the first six months of 2016

January

The year of M&A activity began as it meant to go on with the first rumour of a major merger between Siemens and Gamesa.

The Spanish manufacturer dismisses rumours as "ordinary" it is the subject of a takeover by Siemens. But as we were to discover, there is rarely smoke without fire.

Elsewhere, Vestas buys German service provider Availon in an €88 million deal. Availon has the capacity to service Vestas, Gamesa, and GE turbines, an indication of the Danish manufacturer's focus to expand its servicing offering and for it to become a major revenue stream.

Wind power is also declared Spain's cheapest electricity source in 2015, undercutting solar, hydro and fossil fuels.

Wind averages €46.14/MWh across the year, according to wind body AEE. The next cheapest electricity is from large hydro, at €50.69/MWh, followed by coal, gas and nuclear, with a combined average of €50.94/MWh.

February

A month dominated by turbine failures as Suzlon investigates the collapse of a 2.1MW machine in Brazil.

The manufacturer confirms a turbine fell on 22 December 2015, but an audit of remaining turbines showed no further issues.

And in Denmark, an argument breaks out between the owners of the 14-year old Paludan Flaks offshore project and Siemens over who will pay out for lost electricity output after the nacelle and blades of a 2.3MW Bonus turbine fall into the sea.

Speculation over Siemens' interest in acquiring Gamesa continues to grow as Windpower Monthly takes a look at what the merger would mean for both companies.

Dismantling begins at Altamont Pass project

March

Adwen, the offshore joint venture (JV) between Gamesa and Areva, appears to be the main stumbling block to Siemens' buy-out of Gamesa, as negotiations continue.

Siemens is already the biggest offshore wind manufacturer, and is unwilling to incorporate its rival. The JV between Gamesa and Areva has commitments to build factories in France and a 1.5GW pipeline.

In the US, dismantling begins at one of America's oldest wind farms in the Altamont Pass in California.

Altamont Winds Inc's 83MW of 100kW turbines were not brought online again after being shut down between 1 November 2015 and 15 February 2016 — a routine annual measure to protect endangered birds.

Goldwind emerges as the worldwide leader for turbine installations after a record-breaking year in its home market, China.

The manufacturer replaces Vestas as the leading OEM, installing 12.5% of the 63GW added in 2015, according to analysis firm FTI Consulting.

April

In one of the more unusual technological advances, Vestas unveils a radical four-rotor concept turbine, in a Windpower Monthly exclusive.

The 900kW turbine, comprising four V29-225kW turbines, is installed at a site near Roskilde, Denmark.

"The way to view this is similar to automotive concept cars: we see new things, some materialise sooner than others, and others do not materialise at all. As a technology leader we must be prepared to stand up and also take a lead in shaping the wind industry agenda for tomorrow," said Vestas CTO Anders Vedel.

Enercon installs the first prototype of its EP4-126 4.2MW turbine in the Netherlands. Two protoypes were eventually installed.

The manufacturer expects to produce 140 units in 2017. It is the forerunner to the Enercon's EP4-141 turbine.

Vestas' four-rotor concept is installed in Denmark

May

Easy does it. On 12 May, a floating platform for a 5MW Hitachi turbine keels over to a 45-degree angle during installation at Osaka Bay in Japan.

It was on its way to the project site near Fukushima when the platform took seawater for ballast, causing it to tip over.

The platform was eventually righted on 16 May, and made its way to the test site in July.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) hits back at claims from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump that "you need massive subsidies for wind".

AWEA argues all forms of energy require incentives, and it is only wind and other renewables, which are seeing their support being phased out.

It would not be the only time in 2016, Trump's views on wind power are called in to serious question.

In another example of Vestas targeting the service market, recently acquired subsidiary UpWind Solutions wins a contract from Berkshire Hathaway to service 1.75GW of GE turbines in northwest US.

The 1,150 GE 1.5MW turbines were installed across 15 sites in Wyoming and Oregon.

The floating platform set for Fukushima keels over (pic: Yumiuri Shimbun)

June

Finally, the merger between Siemens and Gamesa is confirmed, creating an OEM with nearly 70GW of operating wind capacity.

The new company will have its legal domicile and global headquarters in Spain. The onshore business will operate out of Spain, while the offshore business will remain at Siemens' bases in Germany and Denmark.

Spanish developer Iberdrola will retain an 8% stake in the new company.

Reaching new heights, Nordex sets a record with the installation of a N131 turbine on a 164-metre hybrid tower with a tip height close to 230-metres.

The tower comprises a 100-metre concrete section below two steel segments, the manufacturer said.

Another unique innovation sees Dutch manufacturer Lagerwey unveil a "climbing crane" for easier tower and turbine installation in difficult terrain.

The crane is attached to the base of the turbine tower and can be used to install tower segments, the nacelle and rotor, removing the need for a large base, necessary with conventional cranes.

Nordex sets new height record with 230-metre high turbine

Siemens also teased the development of a 10MW turbine within the next five years as the company looks to reduce offshore costs to below €80/MWh by 2025.

Speaking to journalists at RenewableUK's Global Offshore Wind event in Manchester (21-22 June), Siemens Wind Power CEO Michael Hannibal said: "It is not totally locked on the rotor size but a D10 would be good", suggesting the new platform would be 10MW or larger.

The second half of Windpower Monthly's review of the year will be published on New Years Eve. 

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