Solar secured, China takes $15.5 bln aim at wind dominance

October 18, 2011
China has growing strength in wind turbines

China has taken on the Western companies that dominate the USD70 billion international wind-turbine market, striving to repeat its 2010 coup when the Asian nation sold more than half the world's solar panels for the first time, according to a detailed report by Bloomberg.

Armed with at least USD15.5 billion in state-backed credit, China's biggest windmill makers Sinovel Wind Group and Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology won their first major foreign orders in the past year. They plan to set up plants abroad, including China's first in the US, easing entry into markets for delivering machines that can weigh 750 tonnes each.

Sinovel and Goldwind may counter the quality concerns of customers and overtake Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems to become the biggest wind turbine suppliers by 2015, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance survey forecast.

That may erode sales and margins for suppliers such as General Electric and Vestas that already face cutbacks in European subsidies and a 22 percent plunge in turbine prices from their 2008 peak.

Enter the dragon

The Chinese dragon is coming,” said Jose Antunes Sobrinho, chief executive officer of Brazil's Desenvix SA, a wind developer that ordered 23 Sinovel turbines in September. The deal, South America's first contract with a Chinese supplier, “is going to be a stepping stone for them” to showcase machines that are about 10 percent cheaper than those sold by competitors in Brazil such as GE and Germany's Siemens AG, he said.