Momentum lost in foreign markets

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Exports of German wind turbines were down considerably in 1997 -- despite the country's current position as world leader in installed capacity (Windpower Monthly, December 1997). A total of 157 machines, or 53.78 MW, were sold abroad last year, a decrease of 34.8% in rated capacity and 60.4% fewer turbines than in 1996. Of total wind turbine sales, exports accounted for 9.2%, a sharp fall from 1996's total of 24.39%.

The poor result, documented by the Deutsches Windenergie Institut (DEWI), was partly due to the bankruptcy of Tacke Windtechnik in July, during which time the company's exports came to a standstill until the October takeover by Enron Wind Holding, reports DEWI.

The institute warns that by not providing financial guarantees from sources outside the industry, Germany puts a limit on the ability of its wind turbine manufacturers to run several projects at once. A manufacturer's own guarantee often amounts to 10- 20% of a project's total costs, weighing heavily on its usually small capital resources. DEWI urges the German wind industry and state institutions to create a new financing framework "so that the leap onto the world market is facilitated."

DEWI notes that exports stagnated at both Enercon and Nordex Balcke-Dürr compared with last year. The exports of Südwind Energiesysteme, however, showed considerable growth thanks to the Indian market. Südwind's sales to India -- in the form of component sets assembled by its Indian partner -- have continued into the first quarter of 1998, when 20 Südwind 350 kW turbines with a combined capacity of 7 MW were installed, bringing the total to 52 turbines with 18 MW of capacity at three sites, Dhank, Bogath and Lamba. The projects are owned by a series of manufacturing companies and power is fed into the grid of utility Geda, based in Ahmedabad.

Most of the remaining exports were accounted for by Vestas Deutschland, AN Windenergie (Bonus turbines), Tacke and Micon Deutschland. Wind turbines went to 18 countries, the most important being India followed by Portugal, where Enercon sold 20 turbines, and Denmark. Exports to Denmark are all by Nordex, formerly a Danish company, which manufacturers turbines in Denmark as well as in Germany.

DEWI draws attention to Wenus Windenergie-Nuztungs-Systeme, a manufacturer of small turbines mainly for off grid markets. Wenus exported 10.2% of its production last year, including sending 15 of its 5 kW machine to China and one to Indonesia. The company is based in Erftstadt-Erp.

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