We took FTI Consulting figures for 2016 to establish our top ten table of original equipment manufacturers, singling out new installations, global cumulative capacity and the number of markets in which they are currently active for the final order, with a forward look at order books, product offerings and company strategy.
However you add up the figures, Vestas is the world's leading wind-turbine supplier.
The Danish manufacturer, including the MHI Vestas offshore joint venture, installed more new capacity than any other company during 2016, has the largest cumulative market share, and was active in the highest number of global markets.
Goldwind actually sold more turbines over the year — 3,656 to Vestas' 3,589 — but the average nameplate capacity of its machines was 1.8MW against the 2.5MW of the Vestas turbines.
The ten manufacturers examined here were responsible for over 43GW of new wind capacity in 2016, representing 76% of the global market, and amounting to nearly 20,000 turbines.
Their cumulative capacity at the end of last year added up to 380GW, more than three quarters of the worldwide total.
We have treated Siemens and Gamesa as one entity following their merger earlier this year, although they were still operating as separate companies during 2016.
Treated separately, FTI placed Gamesa fourth on the list for new installed capacity in 2016 behind Vestas, GE and Goldwind, with 4,262MW installed and a 7.5% market share. Siemens was sixth, behind Enercon, with 3,204MW and 5.6% respectively.
Top 10 OEMs
Offshore vision…MHI Vestas’ first V164 8MW machines are now online at the UK’s Burbo Bank Extension
The Danish manufacturer was overtaken by Goldwind in terms of new installed capacity in 2015, but that was largely a result of extraordinary growth in China that year.
With more normal service resumed in 2016, Vestas returned to the top. According to FTI Consulting, it installed nearly 9GW last year, taking 15.8% of the global market.
The key word here is "global" because Vestas was active in 34 markets in 2016, more than any other turbine maker, FTI Consulting says. There has been no let-up this year, with the company announcing substantial turbine-purchase orders in some hitherto unlikely places — from China and South Korea to Russia.
The US supplies the lion's share of the order book though, mainly for the highand medium-wind V100 and V110 2.0MW models.
Low-wind variants — with rotor diameters of 116 and 120 metres — were announced in April and will be in production next year.
The more Europe-centred 3MW platform is being upgraded for a nameplate capacity of 4.2MW with rotor diameters of 117, 136 and 150 metres.
Largely driven by the demands of competitive tendering auctions, especially in Germany, the main focus is on the medium- and low-wind models.
But the V117 will take the platform into typhoon territory for the first time, opening up coastal markets in China, Japan and Vietnam to the company.
The MHI Vestas offshore joint venture came of age in 2017 with the commissioning of Dong Energy's 258MW Burbo Bank Extension off England's north-west coast.
It was the first to deploy the V164-8.0MW turbine, but orders are in for UK, German and Dutch offshore projects.
A 9.5MW variant of the V164 was announced in the summer, which has already been specified for Innogy's 860MW Triton Knoll project in UK waters. The only bad news on the offshore front during 2017 was the loss through fire of the first 9.5MW V164 prototype installed at the onshore Osterild test site in Denmark.
Vestas's acquisition of independence service providers UpWind Solutions and Availon has paid dividends. Service orders rose from €1.8 billion in 2015 to €10.7 billion last year, the company reported.
Expanding the service operation is only part of the Vestas' strategy of looking beyond the core business of making and selling machines.
"We have definitely stopped seeing ourselves as merely providing turbines," says company vice president Morten Dyrholm. "We are looking at ourselves more and more holistically, as part of a larger electrical system where different technologies need to balance up against each other."
This is still very much a work in progress, although Vestas has been involved in a small-scale hybrid wind-solar and storage schemes. In September the firm confirmed it was working with electric vehicle maker Tesla on energy storage solutions. Pilot projects are planned for 2018, with commercial schemes to follow.
Current focus: Staying at the top onshore
Chief concern: Sluggish growth in global offshore
Record breaker… Siemens Gamesa is due to commission Asia’s tallest turbines this year: 33 G114.2.0 and G114.2.1 turbines at the Sarahnlom wind farm in Thailand on 153-metre tall towers
The merger of Siemens and Gamesa, which took effect on 3 April, created a new giant in wind-turbine manufacturing — one with 75GW of installed capacity across 90 countries, 27,000 employees, and a wide range of onshore and offshore hardware.
Six months later, however, and it is still unclear how Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) will fuse its operations and product line-ups. The first casualty, not entirely unexpected, appears to be the Adwen 8MW offshore turbine, which fell under Gamesa's wing when nuclear group Areva quit the wind business.
Replacing the geared Adwen unit with the direct-drive SGRE 8MW turbine for France's first offshore projects effectively sounds the death-knell for the Adwen machine.
There may be a future for its gearbox, built by Siemens subsidiary Winergy, in future offshore turbine designs from other OEMs, but that is by no means certain.
Another casualty has been jobs, particularly in blade manufacture, where plants in Canada and Denmark have been closed or cut back. Around 1,500 jobs have been lost this year.
Both arms of the new entity have found the going hard in 2017. Gamesa has been hit by the slowdown in Brazil, and the sudden slump in India as state utilities switch from feed-in-tariffs to competitive tendering.
Siemens has been outgunned by Vestas and GE in the ultra-competitive US market, and has been slow to react to the new demands of the German auction system.
The new company looked in need of a big win, and found it as the leader in the consortium that won a 1GW order in Turkey with a bid of only €34.8/MWh over 12-13 years.
"At that price, they're welcome to it," was the off-the-record response of one rival OEM and bidder. The contract includes a commitment to set up manufacturing and research facilities in Turkey, employing mainly local people, and a 65% local content requirement.
The turbine portfolio looks cluttered. Gamesa offers a 2MW platform with rotor diameters ranging from 80 to 114 metres; a 2.5MW family with rotor diameters of 106-126m; and a 3.3MW machine with a rotor diameter of 132m. Siemens' geared 2.3-2.625MW onshore platform comes in at 101-120m. Its direct-drive onshore family now stands at 3.2-4.3MW with rotor diameters of 101, 108, 113, 120, 130, and 142 metres.
The situation is rather clearer offshore, where the direct-drive SWT-154 turbine, introduced as a 6MW model but now developed to 8MW, has only the MHI Vestas V164 for competition in the 7MW-plus sector.
These two turbines look set to dominate Europe's offshore market for the next decade, and are well-placed to exploit the nascent US offshore sector.
Current focus: Rationalising products and facilities
Chief concern: Losing ground to rivals in US and Germany
Peter McCabe, CEO of GE’s onshore wind division
The pull of the domestic market remains strong for GE, but the US turbine maker has been making solid progress of late in a number of other countries, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
In May, GE announced orders of nearly 200MW for two projects in China. June saw a deal with Mainstream Renewable Power to install 800MW in Vietnam. Highlights over the summer included a 153MW contract in Pakistan and a 453MW deal in Australia.
But the big opportunities lie in the US, well into its production tax credit phase-out boom.
According to Make Consulting's analysis, announced at the American Wind Energy Association's conference in May, 50GW of new wind power will be installed in the US by the end of 2020, plus another 7-8GW in repowering.
GE is aiming for a substantial slice of this market and will play hard to get it. It is now taking its chief competitor, Vestas, to the US courts in a patent infringement dispute.
The biggest order of the boom so far was announced in June - 800 2.5MW turbines for the Invenergy-developed 2GW Wind Catcher project in Oklahoma. Repowering deals include one worth roughly 500MW with PacifiCorp in Idaho.
GE's venture into offshore waters looks less clear-cut. The 6MW Haliade turbine, acquired with Alstom, started its commercial electricity-generating life at Deepwater Wind's 30MW Block Island site, commissioned in December last year.
Three more turbines are being installed at a demonstration project in China. Beyond that, there are orders for three French projects worth 1.5GW, which remain held up in legal disputes, and 396MW for a German project in the North Sea.
The Haliade's 6MW nameplate capacity and 150-metre rotor diameter already leave it well behind the MHI Vestas and SGRE competition, raising doubts over its long-term future.
Those doubts grew in May when it was revealed that the European Commission (EC) was investigating GE's takeover of blade maker LM Wind Power, approved by the EC only two months earlier, on the grounds that GE had initially submitted "misleading information".
GE allegedly told the EC that it was not planning to develop a 12MW offshore turbine, but European Union regulators had subsequently found evidence to the contrary. The investigation continues.
GE has been heavily dependent on its 1.7-1.85MW and 2.0-2.5MW workhorse platforms for sales. Its 3.2-3.8MW family, aimed at the European markets, especially Germany, has struggled to make headway against the competition from Vestas, Enercon and Nordex, all of which are now working on 4MW-plus turbines.
GE revealed some details of a new 4.8MW machine with a record-setting rotor diameter of 158 metres at September's Husum trade fair. Aimed at lowand medium-wind sites, it will be available with tower heights ranging from 101 to 161 metres.
Current focus: Making the most of PTC window
Chief concern: Ensuring growth when that window closes
Export drive… Goldwind has been China’s most active OEM in overseas markets, especially
in the US
Goldwind was the world's leading manufacturer in installed capacity in 2015, its 7.88GW taking it past Vestas and GE.
But a slowdown in the Chinese market meant it slipped to third in last year's rankings, and with the creation of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) in April, it falls to fourth.
Goldwind reported a 10% fall in revenue and a 21% drop in pre-tax profit in the first half of 2017 compared with a year earlier, compounding fears the slowdown in China may have on its results.
The company's cumulative installed capacity at the end of 2016 stood at just over 38GW, but only 1.4GW of that is outside China.
In 2016, it supplied turbines to three markets outside China — more than any of its domestic rivals — and that looks set to rise in the coming years.
The shining light in its international arsenal is the Goldwind Americas subsidiary. Towards the end of last year, the firm won a 1.87GW deal for developer Viridis Eolia's multi-phase project in Wyoming. Delivery of the 2.5MW and 3MW turbines is due between now and 2022.
Elsewhere, over the summer Goldwind signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabian government agencies to research investment opportunities and potential manufacturing sites.
The company is adding storage to its catalogue. In August, Goldwind signed a letter of intent with Swedish storage company SaltX to develop a "solution for wind power with integrated energy storage". Goldwind plans to join SaltX's thermal energy-storage technology in a "megawatt-scale system" in Beijing.
Another year like 2015 may be a few years away for Goldwind, but it has realised to reach those heights again it needs to have a multi-pronged attack and cannot rely simply on quantity to secure a market position. It takes innovation and diversity as well.
Current focus: Diversifying its business
Chief concern: Slowing domestic market
Components… Steel tube towers for Enercon turbines are made at production facilities in Magdeburg, Germany and Malmö, Sweden
Speaking at the Hannover Messe trade fair in April, Enercon's managing director, Hans-Dieter Kettwig, forecast gross performance of roughly €5.5 billion for 2017, with installations expected to reach up to 4GW. This is an increase from the 3.6GW installed in 2016, as reported by FTI Consulting.
Kettwig's comments offer a rare glimpse of the financial health of Enercon. Operating as an independent conglomerate of limited-liability companies, it is immune to the pressures of quarterly public reporting, unlike its stock-exchange-listed competitors.
Enercon's presence in 26 markets last year was second only to Vestas, according to the FTI figures, indicative of the work it does in smaller markets, including Bolivia, Costa Rica, Estonia, Taiwan and Vietnam. Historically it has steered clear of the US and China.
Equally notable is that its most popular turbine was the E115-3MW - all of the other top OEM's biggest-selling models were 2.4MW or smaller.
This year saw Enercon's re-entrance to the Indian market, following the completion of a decade-long legal dispute with its former joint-venture partner in the country, now trading as WindWorld India.
Enercon wants to refurbish 1,200 of its turbines on the subcontinent and has set about securing non-exclusive cooperation agreements with independent service providers for repair and maintenance.
The firm kick-started this year's 4MW onshore revolution with the launch of its 4.2MW direct-drive turbine towards the end of 2016. Most of its main rivals have since followed suit, only for Enercon to completely change tack, revealing its radical new modular approach for its 3.5MW platform in August.
The company's wide-ranging technology portfolio includes everything from the smallest EP1 (800-900kW) via the EP2 (2-2.35MW), EP3 (3.05-3.2MW), EP4 (4.2MW) and ending with the EP8 (7.58MW).
With the addition of the new modular EP3 3.5MW design, Enercon acknowledged the shift to auction systems around the world, which demand performance at a lower cost, particularly in Germany, where the company is trying to hold on to its position as market leader even as that market shrinks.
Current focus: New modular-turbine platform
Chief concern: The shift to competitive tendering
Takeover… Nordex’s acquisition of Acciona has boosted its presence in Latin America
Lars Bondo Krogsgaard lasted less than two years as Nordex CEO, resigning in March after the company reduced its revenue forecasts for 2017 and 2018, which prompted a steep fall in its share price.
He was replaced by his deputy and COO, Jose Luis Blanco, former CEO of Acciona Windpower.
The news was a little more positive by the year's halfway point, with the company recording €572 million of new orders in Q2, bringing its total order backlog to €3.6 billion, including service contracts.
The service division is now expanding quickly, up 24% on 2016 levels with a turnover of over €150 million.
But there is more pain to come. In September, Blanco announced that the group was looking to cut €21 billion from its materials and operating costs, and a further €24 million in personnel costs, with the loss of 400-500 jobs across Europe, mostly in Germany.
Germany's shift to competitive tendering has created uncertainty in Nordex's domestic market, and the pure players, including Enercon and Senvion, are struggling to adapt.
"We are responding to the changes in business volume by stepping up cost discipline to support our profitability," said Blanco.
The big news on the product front was the unveiling in September of the latest development of the 3MW Delta platform, launched in 2013.
The new model — aimed at low- and medium-speed wind sites — has a nameplate capacity of 4-4.5MW and a rotor diameter of 149 metres. The first prototype will be installed in autumn 2018, with full-scale production starting the following year.
The company has also been testing a 134-metre tubular steel tower with a diameter of 4.3 metres, which passes German transport restrictions.
Current focus: Cutting costs, bringing 4.5MW to market
Chief concern: Getting elbowed out by the bigger players
Senvion MM92 turbine in California
The US-owned, German-headquarted turbine maker failed to make the 2016 top ten for installed capacity, according to FTI figures. But its cumulative capacity, international reach and turbine portfolio push it up in our rankings.
In the past 18 months the company has revealed new models for its 3MW platform, teased the development of a 10MW-plus offshore turbine, entered a raft of new markets, announced a 4.6% fall in revenues in H1 2017 and plans to cut 780 jobs, mainly at manufacturing sites in Germany. The firm is moving into two years of "transition", explained CEO Jürgen Geissinger.
The former Schaeffler chief has been the role for almost two years. In that time the firm has entered six new markets with supply deals in Croatia, Chile, Norway, Ireland, Serbia, and Italy (offshore), plus a troubled re-entry to India following its sale from previous owner Suzlon to Centerbridge Partners in 2015.
Senvion's onshore portfolio ranges from its MM 2-2.05MW series, of which the MM92 is its bestseller, to the 3.7M144 that was unveiled at Husum in September This turbine has already been specified for a 429MW project in Australia.
Current focus: Restructuring to secure competitiveness
Chief concern: Increasing competition and consolidation
United Power 1.5MW turbine being installed in Tibet
A wholly owned subsidiary of the China Guodian Corporation, one of the country's five largest state-owned power generators, United Power has felt the effects of the slowdown in wind installations in China.
According to FTI, United Power installed 3.09GW of new capacity in 2015, all of it in China, for a 4.9% share of the global market. In 2016 that dropped to 2.13GW and 3.8%. It remains China's second biggest turbine manufacturer although well behind Goldwind.
Sales are concentrated on a 1.5MW turbine with an 86-metre rotor diameter, designed by German wind power consultancy Aerodyn Engineering.
European expertise has also influenced its 2MW turbine (97-metre rotor diameter) and 3MW model (120 metres). A prototype 6MW offshore turbine with a rotor diameter of 136 metres was unveiled several years ago, but United Power did no offshore business in 2016.
Current focus: Ticking over until market improves
Chief concern: Falling behind on technology
Envision’s 1.5MW turbine with a 93-metre rotor diameter
Envision has been exploring new markets and new technologies to compensate for the slowdown in China. It installed just over 2GW in 2016, mostly at home, but it won a 90MW deal in Mexico and has signed contracts for 185MW of projects in Argentina.
The firm acquired the French onshore wind portfolio of European developer Velocita Energy Developments, which includes a 500MW pipeline. It has also been doing its homework in India, ahead of a possible entry into the world's fourth-largest market.
A European consortium last year selected Envision's low-wind turbines to be fitted with a direct-drive superconductor generator — a device claimed to be capable of tripling wind-power generation.
In 2016 the firm unveiled its EnSight energy analytics platform and EnOS system, which it claims can manage "all types of energy infrastructure", from wind turbines to storage devices, and smart grids to home appliances.
Technology giants have taken notice, and this year Microsoft and Accenture teamed up with Envision to develop an internet-of-things programme.
Current focus: Developing smart software packages
Chief concern: Lacks track record in established markets
Open hatch… Engineer inspecting a Suzlon turbine in India
India's leading domestic turbine maker only makes to top ten on the back of its historical record and the future promise of its domestic market.
It installed 1.14GW in 2016, placing it 16th in FTI's table of leading wind turbine suppliers. But it lies eighth in terms of cumulative capacity, with 16.8GW of turbines operating in North and Latin America, Europe and Australia.
India's ambitious wind targets offer ample opportunities for growth, not least in repowering, but other manufacturers are eyeing the market, and Suzlon will have to up its game on the technological front.
Current focus: Improving market share in India
Chief concern: Depth of competition it now faces