Gamesa to expand wind turbines’ lifespan, grow abroad

Gamesa is targeting wind energy markets such as India, Brazil and Mexico for growth this year, following local peers abroad after policy changes at home choked the creation of new wind farms.

Gamesa, the world’s fourth biggest maker of wind turbines, also plans to invest in expanding the lifespan of existing installations in Spain, Gamesa Business Chief Executive Xabier Etxeberria said in an interview with Reuters.


From manufacturers and developers to generators and distributors, Spanish renewable players have been hit by government moves that cut subsidies on the green energy installations which had flourished over the past 20 years.

New wind capacity has been particularly punished by the new measures. Spain already has excess energy capacity and demand has fallen during an economic slowdown.

Other Spanish firms that were global renewable energy pioneers like Iberdrola and Acciona are also going overseas.

“New markets are going to be the key drivers for the next three to five years. In terms of market growth, demand is stabilising in Europe,” Etxeberria said at a wind energy fair in Barcelona this week.

“We want to be where it is growing, and that is in emerging markets,” said Exteberria, who became Gamesa’s No. 2 in 2012 after a series of profit-warnings prompted a major overhaul.

Gamesa, with 27 gigawatts (GW) of installed wind capacity around the world, swung back to a profit in 2013 thanks to cost controls and a focus on Latin America, which now accounts for about half of its sales.

It has said it expects to install between 2.2 GW and 2.4 GW of new wind capacity in 2014.

Much of that will be in India, Brazil and Mexico, which captured 30 percent of new global wind capacity in 2013, excluding China. Exteberria expects the three countries to add a total annual 10 or 11 GW of wind capacity this year and next.

Gamesa, already among the top four manufacturers in Latin America, last week signed a deal to jointly develop wind farms in Mexico with a combined capacity of 500 megawatts.


Shares in Gamesa, whose leading stakeholder is Iberdrola with 19.7 percent, have practically quadrupled in value over the past year, trading at a current 8.43 euros each, as investors eye the firm as a target for consolidation.

With many of Spain’s wind farms approaching the end of their lives, and no new projects expected over the medium term, the company is looking to repower mature farms with new technology.

“The lack of clarity in new Spanish wind projects could be compensated by repowering, reactivating an industry that without new projects could fall into decline,” Extebarria told Reuters.

One hurdle to repowering could be local legislation, which in some Spanish regions limits the lifespan of wind farms to 20 years, even if they are still efficient. But sector experts say the practice is necessary to keep the industry competitive.

Gamesa, which reported a 45 million euro ($61.5 million) profit in 2013, expects double-digit growth in sales at its operation and maintenance division in 2014.

It is also in due diligence over a joint venture in offshore wind turbines with French state-controlled nuclear firm Areva.