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AWEA 2018: Goldwind weighs up US options

UNITED STATES: Localised manufacturing in North America is being considered by Chinese manufacturer Goldwind, according to David Sale, CEO of its subsidiary Goldwind Americas.

The threat of US tariffs on Chinese-built wind turbine components may push Goldwind to localised manufacturing
The threat of US tariffs on Chinese-built wind turbine components may push Goldwind to localised manufacturing

"The analytics are happening now," said Sale.

The Trump administration has said a new tariff of 25% could be slapped on certain wind products imported to the US from China.

"If local supply [of our components] is more beneficial to our customers, then we will make a North American-centric effort," Sale said during an interview at Windpower 2018 in Chicago.

He added that North America is the most important market for Goldwind outside its domestic base in China, where it is the sector leader by far.

A hearing on the recommended 25% tariff will be held on 15 May at the US International Trade Commission in Washington DC.

It is so far unclear what the proposed tariff would apply to, and analysts have speculated that it might apply to nacelles.

 "I am not willing to pull the panic chord yet," said Sale. "It’s a threat."

Goldwind Americas currently imports its nacelles, generators and inverters from China.  It is the only Chinese turbine manufacturer with a sizeable US foothold.

Small components could "almost immediately" be sourced from outside China, said Sale, although the global supply chain for small wind components is centred in China.

All the major OEMs have globalised supply chains and would have to adjust if the tariff is imposed, he pointed out.

In the US, Goldwind intends to continue to develop and initially own projects, although long-term ownership is less likely. "It locks up a lot of capital," said Sale. "But it’s not off the table."

Regarding the phase-out of the Production Tax Credit (PTC), he noted: "Ultimately it’s a difficult market post-PTC. On the other hand this journey we’re taking has forced us to look at cost.

"The US is a tough market. If you can succeed here, you can succeed anywhere."

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) will hold its Windpower 2018 conference and exhibition in Chicago (7-10 May). Windpower Monthly will bring all of the coverage from the show across the week. 

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