Chinese wind power cracks America and prepares European drive

The US arm of Chinese turbine maker Goldwind announced yesterday that it had entered into an agreement with Wyoming-based Viridis Eolia to supply the whole of its 1.9GW programme of works.

If the projects win regulatory approval from state and federal authorities, this will be a breakthrough for Goldwind in the US market. Up until now, the largest scheme it has supplied is the 160MW Rattlesnake Wind Project, located in McCulloch County in eastern Texas.

When that scheme was announced in May, David Halligan, the chief executive of Goldwind Americas, said it was the "first step of a five-year growth strategy to capitalise on the extension of the production tax credit".

When the Wyoming scheme was announced, he said the five-year plan was now well under way, and added: "This conditional supply of Goldwind permanent magnet direct-drive turbines demonstrates the high performance of our machines and our commitment to expansion throughout the Americas."

Production tax credits were introduced in 1992 to help America’s renewable power industries to become established. They were unexpectedly renewed in 2015, thereby providing enough federal money to pay for 20GW of solar and 19GW of wind energy.

Companies such as Viridis and Goldwing are gearing up to take advantage of this government funding bonanza.

Under the Wyoming agreement, Goldwind will deliver its 2.5MW and 3MW machines for a masterplanned development in Carbon County in south-central Wyoming. The first element will be a relatively small 32.5MW project run by Little Medicine Bow Wind for completion next year (an existing scheme is pictured above).

The masterplan is expected to take up to six years to build out, depending on how long it takes to clamber over regulatory hurdles. In the past, this has proved to be a lengthy and uncertain process, although Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has said she will cut red tape for wind and related transmission projects on public lands, if she wins in the 8 November elections.

Chicago headquartered Goldwind Americas is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology, which is based in western China. Goldwind became the world’s largest turbine maker earlier this year, passing Vestas of Denmark.

Meanwhile, the Recharge website for the renewable power industry reported this week that Envision Energy, another Chinese turbine maker, was planning to invest €1bn in the European energy market.

Feng Zhang, the company’s executive director for research and development, told the site: "We are looking at acquiring development portfolios."

He added that the company’s activities in Europe would be based in Hamburg, where the firm is expanding its European headquarters.

Recharge notes that Envision’s push into Europe "comes amid some concern in the sector that Chinese wind OEM’s may repeat the success of their peers in solar PV and use the advantage of the enormous Chinese home market and the economies of scale it provides to sell wind turbines more cheaply in Europe than local OEMs".

Image: An existing wind farm in Medicine Bow, Wyoming (Tony Webster/Creative Commons)

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