Hitachi suspends production, favours Enercon

Hitachi will stop producing its own turbines and instead focus on distributing Enercon machines in Japan and overseas, expanding a 20-year-old collaboration agreement with the German manufacturer.

Hitachi's 5.2MW offshore turbine uses 66.5-metre blades supplied by LM Wind Power
Hitachi's 5.2MW offshore turbine uses 66.5-metre blades supplied by LM Wind Power

It will also concentrate its efforts on providing maintenance and service solutions for existing wind turbines, its CEO Toshiaki Higashihara said in a statement.

He explained that a competitive market dominated by more powerful turbines and characterised by high development costs had prompted the change.

Higashihara added switching to a service-centred business model would improve the profitability of Hitachi’s renewable energy business.

The company would also develop artificial intelligence technology to analyse wind flow at project sites.

This would enable developers to better predict turbine faults, and therefore schedule maintenance and repairs promptly and at appropriate times, Hitachi explained.

Yoshinori Ueda, general manager of the Japanese Wind Power Association, told Windpower Monthly: "If Japan lose the wind turbine manufacture, that is a tragedy. Japan has enough industrial abilities to keep the wind turbine manufacturers."

The Japanese technology giant had manufactured its own offshore 5.2MW and onshore 2MW turbines using downwind rotors.

It acquired the 2MW design when it bought former joint venture partner Fuji Heavy Industries’ wind turbine division in 2012.

The onshore turbines are designed for more mountainous sites in its native Japan, Higashihara explained – but more wind farms being developed in flatter, more inland areas had created adverse conditions for Hitachi.

Hitachi would finish projects already slated to use the company’s turbines, including Taiwanese utility’s 109.2MW Changhua offshore wind farm, he added.

Hitachi had entered a collaborative agreement with Enercon in 1997 and has since delivered 428 of the German manufacturer’s turbines with a combined capacity of 628MW, it stated.

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