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Please find below a snapshot of key stories currently being discussed in the wind energy industry.

Siemens in race for Alstom energy arm

Siemens has entered the race to buy French rival Alstom’s energy business in a bid to scupper a proposed deal by General Electric.

The German manufacturer has offered to swap some of its transport assets and an additional cash payment in exchange for Alstom’s renewable power, thermal power and grid divisions.

Reports last week suggested General Electric was on the cusp of concluding a takeover of Alstom. The proposed deal is now believed to focus on Alstom’s energy assets, which represent 70% of its sales.

Nordex gains €100m for turbine R&D

The European Investment Bank has granted Germany's Nordex a €100m loan to develop next-generation turbine technology. 

The backing help will support a ten-year innovation programme worth around €250m that aims to optimise the company's wind technology and boost the competitiveness of its turbines. The work builds on Nordex's Generation Delta technology.

The bank’s investment priorities include funding projects that contribute to tackling climate change and protecting the environment. The bank invested €19bn in these sectors in 2013, including €6.4bn to grow the use of renewable energy.

First quarter wind deals hit £6.4bn

Deals worth $10.5bn (£6.4bn) were concluded in the first quarter of 2014 boosted by large offshore deals, new research shows. 

Clean energy consultancy Mercom Capital Group has reported that 29 large-scale project funding deals were announced in the first quarter of 2014, totalling $7.2bn (£4.3bn). Thirty-two deals worth $3.9bn (£2.3bn) were done in the fourth quarter of 2013.

However, wind venture capital funding fell to $32m (£19m) in the first quarter of 2014, down from $93m (£55m) quarter-on-quarter.

InterEnergy's 215MW Panama order

InterEnergy has placed a 215MW order for Goldwind turbines for its Penonome wind farm in the province of Cocle in Panama.

Xinjiang Goldwind subsidiary Goldwind USA has received an order for 86 of its 2.5MW Permanent Magnet Direct-Drive turbines for the Panama scheme. Goldwind will also provide a long-term maintenance programme.

On Friday, Goldwind reported its first quarter results, which showed a 51% increase in sales in the period year-on-year to £136m; and profits up 56% year-on-year to £4.8m.

New China pollution laws to boost wind

China has given a boost to its wind power sector by passing its strictest environmental pollution laws for 25 years.

The Chinese government is set to introduce tough punishments for directors of polluting companies from 1 January, including the potential for 15 days in prison. The government is seeking to curb pollution and improve air quality in Chinese cities.

The laws are set to push firms towards using greener sources of energy, including from wind farms. China is the world's biggest investor in green energy, with investment totalling $54bn in 2013.

Wind Watch

The Americans and the French have been getting on well of late.

President Francois Hollande’s successful visit to the White House in February is a case in point — despite the backdrop of his high-profile sex scandal.

However, the US-France relationship may be put to the test later this week if the reported bid by General Electric (GE) to acquire Alstom comes to pass.

The French are famous for fiercely guarding the country’s assets, jobs and the ownership of its companies. Indeed, the French government last week warned GE that it was ready to fight for its national interests if GE did make a multi-billion dollar bid.

The background here is that the government bailed out Alstom ten years ago to the tune of €2.5bn; and the firm relies heavily on orders from state-owned rail operator SNCF and utility EDF. The government won’t want to put that legacy at risk.

If GE does seek to buy Alstom or its energy assets - which account for 70% of the French company's sales - then completing an acquisition would not be simple or quick.

There are plenty of reasons why such a deal would be of interest.

Over the last few years Alstom has built up a significant global market share within the international energy markets.

In early 2011 it opened a turbine nacelle factory in Amarillo in the US. Later that year it opened a 300MW manufacturing facility in Brazil.  And, in March 2012, it confirmed plans to open factories in Cherbourg and Saint-Nazaire after winning a French offshore wind farm tender with EDF and Dong Energy.

That is not to say the company is problem-free. It has been hit by the shift in European energy markets away from traditional energy sources, and last year it revealed plans to cut 1,300 jobs, mainly in its coal-fired boiler business.

But there is still plenty to recommend the company to GE. It has seen some stable group financial performance and strong growth within the energy division, in particular within renewables. This presents a compelling case.

The deal would also be a smart way for the US manufacturer to consolidate its position within key growth markets, such as Brazil.

Here, both firms have already established an operating base, and merging the two units could reduce overheads and costs and remove a key competitor.

Couple this with GE's increasing desire to tap into the global offshore market - an area in which it has been largely shut out - and the rationale stacks up. 

But that doesn't mean it's a done deal, as it has become public over the weekend that Siemens is also in the running for Alstom's energy assets to prevent GE growing its presence in Europe. A deal with Siemens may find more favour with France's leaders.

Both Alstom and GE senior management have remained tight-lipped in recent days. Alstom has denied a formal approach; GE has refused to comment; and Bouygues, which owns almost 30% of Alstom, has also said nothing.

Whatever happens, all this speculation has certainly been well timed to create maximum impact for Alstom, which is scheduled to deliver its financial results on 7th May.

All the best,

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