Wind industry highlights - April 2015

Suzlon sells Senvion, Vestas boosts blade workers in US, new offshore wind developments for Hawaii and China, while growth in small wind market slows.

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Suzlon shareholders approve sale to Senvion
The board of directors for wind turbine manufacturer Suzlon (Pune, India) has approved the sale of subsidiary Senvion (previously REpower, Hamburg, Germany) to private equity firm Centerbridge Partners (New York, NY, US). The $1.2 billion all-cash deal — made necessary by Suzlon's financial struggles — allows Suzlon to license Senvion’s offshore wind technology for use in India and in return, Senvion is allowed to use Suzlon’s S111-2.1 MW technology for the US market.

Vestas to boost employment at Colorado blade factory
Encouraged by a rebound in new US orders, Turbine maker Vestas plans to hire up to 400 workers for its Windsor, Colo.-based blade facility. The company had laid off at least 200 workers in 2013, citing a slow market caused by production tax credit uncertainty. Vestas has other composites-related plants in Brighton, Colorado that manufacture blades and nacelles.

BOEM considers request to build two massive offshore wind farms in Hawaii
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM, Washington, DC, US) has received unsolicited lease requests for proposed floating wind projects offshore Oahu, Hawaii. AW Hawaii Wind (AWH), a Texas-based subsidiary of Alpha Wind Energy (AWE, Bjerringbro, Denmark) has proposed to build two 408 MW offshore wind farms, each comprising 51 floating 8 MW turbines, with power transmitted to Oahu by undersea cables. This is the first step in a process that includes environmental analysis and stakeholder engagement.

Two-bladed wind turbine targets Chinese offshore market
China Ming Yang Wind Power Group (Zhongshan, China) reports that its 6.5 MW offshore wind prototype is now connected to the grid in China's Jiangsu province and producing power on a trial basis. The prototype features a permanent magnet generator — called a super compact drive (SCD) by the company — and a two-bladed design that reportedly adapts to various extreme offshore weather conditions, offering high reliability at a lower weight to offshore wind farm operators. Ming Yang chairman and CEO Chuanwei Zhang says this offers a cost-effective solution for projects in typhoon-prone areas such as China’s eastern and southern coasts, potentially one of the world's largest offshore markets.

Growth slows for global small wind market
As reported by North American Windpower, the global small wind sector has slowed after several years of strong growth. According to a report from the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA, Bonn, Germany), 2012 changes to the UK feed-in tariff mechanism reduced sub-50 kW turbine deployment by ≈80%. China — global small wind market leader with a 41% share — has also seen a drop in units installed. Still, more than more than 870,000 small wind turbines were installed in 2013, an increase of 8% vs. the previous year. According to the WWEA, the US accounts for 30% of the global small wind market.