Although the global recession has dampened demand there are still more answers blowing in the wind.By Stas Margaronis, AJOT China is a growing force in the wind industry and three exporters are taking the lead in selling Chinese wind turbines in the United States including Goldwind, Sinovel and Dongfang, according to the Danish-based consultant MAKE.
This means that US ports should see growth of wind product coming from China.
MAKE says that towers and blades for wind turbines are increasingly being built in the United States but gear boxes and generator controls are more likely to be imported.
The company said “China remains the fastest-growing wind energy market in the world” and has gone from a cumulative grid capacity of less than 200 megawatts in 2004 to almost 19,000 megawatts by 2009 ranking third behind Germany and the United States. In 2009 China accounted for around 27% of new global capacity by connecting 8,970 megawatts of wind. Imports of wind energy equipment during this recession have significantly boosted import cargo numbers, often in ports that are off the container grid. Fort example, in the port of Longview, Washington, wind energy components first arrived in 2001 amounting to 6,387 metric tons, out of a total of 886,845.9 metric tons of import freight. Wind energy equipment thus accounted for a mere for .72% of the port’s import tonnage. However, by 2009 wind energy imports tallied 715,808.9 metric tons, accounting for 14.1% of the port’s import tonnage that year. The question is with the drop in demand will the winds continue to blow favorably for project cargo ports handling wind energy equipment?
Vestas battles economic headwindsAJOT: In what areas and in what Kw capacity does Vestas see for sales in North American wind turbines for 2011? Vestas: “Despite economic headwinds, we are succeeding in 2010. In North America, Vestas has secured 10 firm orders totaling 670 turbines and 1,522 MW this year among four turbine types. Power demand in North America will improve with the economy. Wind will continue to be an important component in meeting power demand as regulatory policies stabilize, our technology improves and the credit market loosens.”
AJOT: Can you give us some sense of the dimension of components imports into North America? We note shipments coming from Vietnam and China can you give us some order of magnitude as to how much is being imported in dollar terms, units, tonnage and which North American ports receive the most shipments? Ports in Beaumont, Texas, and Vancouver, Washington, receive the most wind-turbine component imports. We are unable to answer in more specifics for proprietary reasons.
AJOT: Can you give us a sense for new shipments in 2011 compared to 2010? Vestas: “With a regularly changing sourcing environment, it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact international/domestic split. In North America, Vestas primarily sources domestically. We are optimistic about the future of wind energy in North America.”
AJOT: Is the declining dollar causing Vestas to build more components in its North American facilities and in what areas? Vestas: “We have made a firm commitment to building domestically to ensure both Vestas and customers are not vulnerable to currency fluctuations. It’s more cost-efficient for our customers to have Vestas build components closer to their projects. Vestas has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to establish its North American manufacturing base in Colorado — two blade factories, one tower factory and one nacelle factory. Our ability to manufacture turbines will be driven by the market and the orders we receive from our customers. We have seen our order