Windpower Top 30 - GE's McEntee tops list

The fourth Windpower Monthly Top 30 places wind industry leaders according to their ability to influence, using categories such as global reach, financial clout and megawatt might. The resulting ratings reveal personnel changes and new industry trends.

Go to Top 30 list

Former FIFA world footballer of the year Lionel Messi once said he would prefer the team to win titles rather than have accolades heaped on himself. Without wishing to doubt his sincerity, his view is undoubtedly correct. If a team does well, that success is likely to be passed on to the individual players.

The same is true for wind power, be it the individual companies or the sector as a whole. Yet, at the same time, every team or company needs to have a Messi to lead it, to take the wheel and to change course when things are turning for the worse.

Our Top 30 list is about these people, and it reflects the changing state of the wind industry. Tellingly, the top four have only been in the wind sector for an average time of 18 months, either coming from other parts of the power sector or other manufacturing areas. Moreover, only two out of the top ten were there during the glory days of the early 2000s when wind went through its period of stellar growth.

The influx of new management was especially evident in 2013. Shortly before the compilation of last year's list, 2012's winner and Vestas CEO Ditlev Engel was sacked and replaced by Anders Runevad, who joined from telecoms company Ericsson. Shortly before this, GE initiated a similar management merry-go-round, replacing its longstanding head of renewables Vic Abate with Anne McEntee, who worked in the conglomerate's oil and gas business. The industry bodies were also affected, with the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) both bringing in new CEOs.

This year's change

In 2014 the big changes have come in the form of consolidation across companies. There has been a number of joint ventures and mergers, especially in the offshore arena, with the Vestas/Mitsubishi venture, and Gamesa creating a similar offshore link-up with Areva.

But the biggest deal in the last year has undoubtedly been GE's agreement to acquire Alstom's energy business. Among the ramifications, GE has been dragged into the offshore sector. The French company's onshore business, with a strong base in many global markets and a good bank of technology patents, will give GE an added edge, especially in Brazil.

Other changes have come in terms of departures. One notable example is Siemens' chief technology officer Henrik Stiesdal, who is set to retire at the end of this year, while Alstom's Alfonso Faubel has moved on in the company. Elsewhere, a number of European-based utilities have cut back on their offshore plans, preferring to invest in emerging markets, especially in South America. And regulatory uncertainty - particularly in Europe - remains an obstacle to growth. Finally, the lack of financial investment in the wind sector has seen a few of last year's heads roll. These changes have all had a significant effect on this year's list.

How we calculated

To make sense of all this and understand how influence is spread across the industry, Windpower Monthly consulted experts within wind power as well as asking readers to vote for their own choices from a shortlist. This shortlist was divided into categories: manufacturers; trade bodies and politicians; utilities and developers; and the finance sector.

We then considered each candidate, in association with the public vote, in terms of their contribution to the sector (their influence) according to: financial worth; the megawatts installed and in the pipeline; technical know-how or intellectual property; influential thinking; political influence; and global presence. The symbols used in the listings indicate a significant strength in each of these categories.

A system like this will always suit the manufacturers, where there are a greater number of parameters. We make no apology for this. One of the reasons the wind industry is so fascinating is its varied make-up, including financiers on the one side, engineers on the other and politicians in between. But it is the manufacturers who make the turbines - the symbol of wind power itself - who are the heart of the industry. And it is these same companies and the people at the helm who will lead the industry as it moves away from its glorious heyday into the uncertain future.

Windpower Monthly's Top 30 Most Influential

Further reading - INTO THE FUTURE WHAT 2015 MAY BRING