Chinese one step off top spot

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CHINA’S grip on the wind turbine market is growing so fast that Sinovel has climbed to second place in the global manufacturers league table.

Only Vestas stands between Sinovel and the crown held by Europe, at least until now.

According to new analysis by Simmons and Company International, four Chinese manufacturers were in the top 10 worldwide in 2010.

GE Wind, the second-largest manufacturer in 2009, dropped to third in 2010, following increasing weakness in the US market.

Vestas’ market share increased to 14.8% in 2010, from 12.5% in 2009, but its market share is still drastically down from its 34% share in 2004.

The top four wind turbine manufacturers accounted for 45% of wind capacity installations, up from 43% in 2009, but down from 75% in 2006 (Vestas 14.8%, Sinovel 11.1%, GE Wind 9.6%, Goldwind 9.5%).

Chinese manufacturers hold an 89.5% market share in the Chinese market, an increase of 3.5% since 2009.

All of the major wind turbine companies except Vestas hold dominant positions in their large home markets.

In the 10 largest markets worldwide, 13 of the 30 top market spots are held by one of the four largest global wind manufacturers.

Wind turbine manufacturing has become a much more diversified business, with the 10 largest manufacturers having 79.8% of the market share in 2010, down from 95.7% in 2005.

As for the split between onshore versus offshore turbines, onshore reigns supreme. However, Simmons reports that offshore is gaining ground.

In 2010, a record 1,444MW of offshore wind capacity was installed, making offshore wind 3.6% of global wind installations. This was a 110% increase in installations from 2009, which itself was a 100% increase over 2008.

Europe continues to dominate offshore wind.

Globally, there is an offshore wind capacity of 3,554MW (1.9% of global wind capacity), an increase of 68% over the 2009 capacity.

The UK remains the largest offshore market, according to BTM Consult, with more than 50% of the cumulative capacity.

The offshore market in 2011 is projected to be 1,400MW, with 802 MW of capacity scheduler for installation in UK waters.

Turning to the march of technology, Simmons records that the average size of turbine installed worldwide during 2010 was 1.66MW, which continues the trend of slowing growth in average turbine size (1.6MW in 2009).

More than 83% of turbines installed in 2010 were in the 1.5-2.5MW market segment.

While most turbines on the market are between 1.5MW and 3MW, the largest turbines continue to grow in capacity.

Enercon manufactures the largest onshore turbine at 7.5MW, and Repower builds the largest offshore turbine at 6.15MW.

Even larger turbines are gestating, with multiple manufacturers developing 10MW offshore turbines and a feasibility study having been performed on a 20MW offshore unit.

Direct drive turbines have continued to become more prevalent in the market due to their simple composition, as they have fewer moving parts.

Direct drive turbines formed a total of 17.6% of the market in 2010, up from 14% in 2009.