All change at the top in China -- Sinovel and Vestas move up

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Sinovel has become China's leading wind turbine supplier. It installed 1.4 GW, 22.45%, of the 6.2 GW installed in China in 2008, upstaging the country's long-time leader, Goldwind, which supplied 1.1 GW, or 18.12%, reports the Chinese Wind Energy Association (CWEA). Sinovel is also closing in on Goldwind as the company to have installed most wind power so far in China, with a total of 2.2 GW, or 17.8%, of the national 12.2 GW of capacity installed at the start of this year. Goldwind is still ahead at 2.6 GW, or 21.6%.

This year, around 8-10 GW of new wind capacity is expected to go up in China, reports CWEA's Shi Pengfei, a decline in year-on-year growth from 106% in 2008 to 66-82%. The slowdown, he says, is a natural adjustment for a new and booming market.

Sinovel, set up in 2004 as a subsidiary of China's Dalian Heavy Industry, installed 680 MW last year, double its 2007 achievement, when it lay behind Goldwind. It is the country's largest supplier of 1.5 MW turbines. The Sinovel machine is based on technology from Germany's Fuhrländer, produced under licence. The firm is also working with AMSC Windtec on 3 MW and 5 MW designs.

Goldwind, which has been in China's market for over a decade, is only just holding onto the second place it was relegated to for annual sales. Although the 2.6 GW shipped last year was a 36.4% increase on its sales in 2007, it was only about 80 MW more than achieved by Dongfang Steam Turbine Works. Dongfang saw a near five-fold increase on the 222 MW it installed in 2007, taking it from fifth to third place in China, with just under 17% of the 2008 market.

Between them, Sinovel, Goldwind and Dongfang took a whopping 57% of the market in 2008, continuing a trend started in 2007 that has seen foreign companies rapidly losing market share. Chinese companies now account for 58% of the total 12.2 GW installed, the first time their share has been more than that of outsiders. Including Sino-foreign joint ventures, the Chinese share rises to 61.65%.

Among the foreign players, 2008 delivered several blows to last year's leader, Spain's Gamesa. Sinovel's rapid rise means Gamesa is relegated from second to third slot in the rankings for cumulative capacity, with 1.6 GW or 12.8% of the country's total. It also fell from third to fifth place in annual sales in 2008, pushed down by Dongfang and Denmark's Vestas to take 8.14% of the market.

Vestas, with installations up 62% on the previous year, was the leading foreign supplier in 2008, taking 9.6% of the market. America's GE Energy was the only other foreign firm to stay in the top ten. India's Suzlon, seventh in 2007, and Germany's Nordex, ninth last year, were ousted by domestic firms.

By end 2008, China had 11,600 wind turbines operating across 25 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. Inner Mongolia, with over 2 GW installed in 2008, remains the most popular region for development, followed by Liaoning, Hebei and Jilin, the only other regions in the gigawatt club. About 12 TWh of wind power was fed to the grid, compared with 5.2 TWh in 2007.

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