Exports still booming

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Six of Denmark's seven largest wind turbine manufacturers together sold turbines for some DKK 1.4 billion ($210 million) in 1993, a slight increase on each of the two previous years when sales were recorded at just over DKK 1.2 billion. Manufacturers expect the positive trend in sales to continue in 1994, especially on export markets in Europe, Asia, South America and North America.

Exports in 1993 accounted for the majority of Danish sales, as they have done in the two previous years, with just 15% of turbines going to the home market. The Danish market has stagnated because of dwindling political support. This has allowed a sharp fall in the price of wind power to go unchecked and allowed a steady erosion of the wind market's infrastructure. Without financial incentives or active political support to clear the way through administrative obstacles, there has been little reason for private people in Denmark to invest in wind energy.

In the meantime markets abroad have boomed and Danish companies have been quick to set up licence and joint production ventures in several countries. This has enabled them to reap the advantages of being local suppliers to export customers. Industry observers expect one or more Danish companies to soon move their entire manufacturing facilities abroad unless the home market rallies.

Denmark's largest wind company, Vestas, took pole position in 1993 with sales for DKK 650 million ($97 million), 90% of which were exports. Compared with 1992 this represents a ten per cent increase in turnover. Managing director, Johannes Poulsen, says he expects even greater things of 1994, but declines to be more specific.

With a turnover last year of over DKK 250 million ($37 million) -- an increase of 25% on 1992 -- Nordtank takes second place. President Vagn Trend Poulsen says 85% of production went abroad, compared with 75% in 1992. Poulsen has "reasonably positive expectations" of the home market in 1994, but chiefly because he cannot see how it can get worse.

Last year Bonus sold wind turbines for just over DKK 200 million ($30 million), reports managing director Palle Nørgaard, about the same as in 1992. But while just 66% of production was exported in 1992, this increased to 80% in 1993. Nørgaard expects a "considerable increase" in turnover this year.

Micon's turnover in 1993 was DKK 200 million, double that of 1992, says retiring director Peder Mørup. "And 1994 is unlikely to be less than that," he adds. Micon's exports increased from 66% of production in 1992 to 80% last year.

An equally impressive improvement in turnover is reported by Nordex. The company's Jens Pedersen says sales increased from DKK 42 million to DKK 96 million between 1992-1993. Once again Nordex sold just one turbine in Denmark, to the same customer as last year. The company has orders for DKK 95 million for 1994.

Wincon, owned by the large Vestfrost concern and for this reason theoretically in a stronger position than its competitors, had a dismal year. Turnover was halved from DKK 50 million in 1992 to just DKK 25 million in 1993, says managing director Jan Haahr. He has since been replaced by engineer Carsten Pedersen as head of manufacturing and by sales manager Søren Bonde as marketing manager. Jan Haahr, former owner of Wincon, will sell turbines on export markets, primarily Argentina and Egypt, says Pedersen. "We have admitted we will have to concentrate on exports," he says. "Until now we have concentrated on the Danish market and that hasn't worked out too well." Nonetheless, 40% of Wincon sales in 1993 were exported compared with 25 per cent in 1992.

Denmark's seventh large wind turbine company, Wind World, refused to discuss its turnover.

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