With the growing number of wind power events, it was perhaps little wonder that the volume of wind power exhibitors at the world's biggest industrial trade fair was down on last year's tally. In particular, Germany's wind project financiers and wind project developers stayed away from this year's Hannover Industrie Messe -- an absence that could be a reflection of the stagnating German wind market. The exhibition organisers conceded that the volume of exhibitors at the event, held during the second week of April, was down 10% on two years ago.
Germany's wind turbine manufacturers, however, turned out in force, with only Pfleiderer Wind staying at home. In the words of one die-hard coal industry player visiting the show: "Anyone would think hall thirteen is wind power," rather than one of three locations reserved for exhibits from the entire German energy sector. The energy fair attracted 900 exhibitors, out of a total of 6200, from 40 countries.
A relative newcomer to the international wind scene, Fuhrländer stood out from the crowd by banning all technology from its large stand. Its display of traditional dwellings from different parts of the world was designed, it said, to send out a symbolic message of "support instead of dominance" for developed and developing countries alike. In contrast, the Enercon and AN Windenergie stands were both dominated by turbine nacelles. Enercon's stand featured the machine houses of its E40 600 kW and E30 300 kW turbines, while AN's contained a 1.3 MW Bonus turbine. AN is the German agent for Danish Bonus technology and despite its choice of turbine display, the company is heavily promoting its larger 2.3 MW machines, 30-40 of which it plans to install in Germany later this year.
A major display was also put on by GE Wind, one of two wind companies to unveil details of new turbines at the event along with REpower Systems. GE's massive stand was home to an impressionistic cool-grey wind turbine hub with conference rooms built into the symbolic rotor blade stubs. The main talking point was the presentation of a new family of GE turbines with capacities of 2.3, 2.5 and 2.7 MW. The company was bullish about the performance of its new range and said a prototype should be ready by the end of the year, although it did not reveal where the prototype will be installed.
In contrast to the GE stand, those of NEG Micon, Nordex and REpower Systems were more understated. REpower made a formal presentation on its 2 MW MM82 turbine, prototypes of which will be installed at the Grevenbroich inland wind test station in Germany in early May and at the coastal test station Kaiser-Wilhelm-Koog a few weeks later. Designed for low wind areas, the company hopes to export them to countries such as Spain, France and Italy.
Umweltkontor and Plambeck Neue Energie were the most notable absentee developers. Umweltkontor posted a EUR 5.2 million loss for 2002, which may have influenced its decision to save on exhibition expenses, though the same cannot be said of Plambeck. It increased its pre-tax profits by EUR 2.1 million to EUR 22.2 million in 2002.
Of the developers in attendance, Michael Böhm of Enersys Gesellschaft für regenerative Energien reported on the second day that business was slow, though noted that "we are proud to be here again." In addition to making contacts to help the company build on its existing activities in Spain, Poland and Croatia, Böhm said Enersys hoped to find a French partner. The company is seeking to establish a subsidiary in France. Energiekontor was also optimistic about profiting from its presence "and building on the best first-quarter marketing results in 2003 since the company was founded," said the firm's Cerstin Lange.
A two day conference -- the international energy congress -- was held alongside the exhibition. Only one presentation, however, by REpower's Fritz Vahrenholt, focused on renewable energy sources. A concurrent export forum saw more wind power activity. It was organised jointly by several organisations including the German energy agency, Deutsche Energie Agentur Dena, engineering federation Verband Deutscher Maschinen und Anlagenbau, the German wind institute, Deutsches Windenergie Institut, and the national wind energy association, Bundesverband Windenergie. Project developer Eclareon and engineering company Elexyr were also partners.
For two days the forum was devoted to development opportunities for wind power development in India, Australia, South Africa, Spain, the UK and Poland. "Come and invest in the UK," said John Buckley, of the UK's department of trade and industry. "Bring in your skills and know-how and take UK expertise out into the world." German wind companies are clearly turning to overseas markets now that sales at home have apparently peaked with a record year in 2003.