Wind energy Gamesa in China

Gamesa Corp Tecnologica SA, a leading Spanish wind turbines manufacturer and wind farm developer, plans to invest 90 million euros ($128 million) by 2012 in China, the world’s largest wind power country, said Jose Antonio Miranda, the newly appointed chairman of Gamesa China.

That figure includes investments in two new plants in Jilin province and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region this year. China is planning to greatly expand its offshore wind power capacity to 5 gigawatt (gW) by 2015, and wind turbine manufacturers are preparing to capture the demand.

Gamesa is set to launch its first offshore prototype, the 5 megawatt (mW) G11x model, in the US next year. Meanwhile, it is developing the larger, 6 or 7 mW G14x wind turbine, which is expected to be operational in two or three years.

The new chairman hopes the G11x will be installed in China in two years.  But the Chinese manufacturer Sinovel Wind Co Ltd has already made a 6 mW wind turbine and is looking into following through with 10 MW turbines.

Though China represents more than 20 percent of its revenue globally, Gamesa’s market share has been declining since 2005, when it commanded one-third of the market.

The wind power sector is seeing a trend of focusing on quality, while in the past it was growth, Miranda said. "People have started to think about the quality of the machines and the real value of high quality products after the incidents in Gansu province," he said.

Four major incidents happened this year in Jiuquan, Gansu province, one of the country’s major wind power bases, in which equipment failures led to 2,978 turbines being disconnected from the grid, raising concerns about the Chinese wind turbines.

The energy cost of running an offshore turbine will be huge in 20 years and low quality machinery that will eventually damage the investment return is a poor idea, Miranda said.

By the end of 2010, China’s overall wind power capacity amounted to 44.73gW, up 73.3 percent from the previous year. From 2006 through 2009, the growth rate of the country’s installed wind-energy capacity averaged 113 percent.

"We are seeing consolidation in the onshore market and hopefully we will gain even more market share in the process, " Miranda said.

Growth in the onshore wind power sector will slow due to tightening financing, and a switch of focus to quality, he said. Seeing itself as more than just a wind turbine maker, Gamesa is also looking at the wind farm business and has more than 2,900 MW of capacity in the pipeline to be developed in China.