Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pt. III, GE and the Enron Playbook: "Wind-Turbine Makers Press for Green Mandates"

Here's "Pt. I: GE and the Enron Playbook (ENE; GE)" and "Pt II, GE and the Enron Playbook: "GE, BP Join Industry Demands for Carbon Regulations"" of what will be an irregular and idiosyncratic series.
From the Wall Street Journal:

Wind-turbine makers say growth in their industry could dramatically slow unless the federal government requires more electricity come from renewable energy.

New federal stimulus grants helped restart a stalled wind-power industry, but Vic Abate, a General Electric Co. vice president in charge of its wind-turbine business, said orders for wind turbines to be built in 2012 and thereafter have been "extremely light."

He is worried that wind-power installation by 2012 could fall back to one-third of last year's construction levels without additional government support, taking the wind industry from "a boom to a bust cycle."

The biggest impact will be felt by the wind-turbine makers. Last year, GE made 43% of the turbines in the U.S. market. Competitors including Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems A/S, Germany's Siemens AG and India's Suzlon Energy Ltd. each held about 10% of the market, according to trade group American Wind Energy Association.

Vestas, the second-largest turbine manufacturer in the U.S., recently reported its order backlog in North and South America was down 66.6% from a year earlier. Michael Peck, head of institutional relations at the U.S. unit of Spanish turbine-maker Gamesa Corp., says passing a strong renewable-energy standard is needed to spur renewable-energy growth.

To head off a bust, the U.S. wind industry has made passage of a national renewable-electricity standard -- a requirement for electric power from sources such as wind, solar and geothermal -- a top priority.

Their pitch to lawmakers is jobs. A wind turbine "is a big piece of steel with rotating parts," said Andris Cukurs, chief executive of Suzlon's U.S. unit. "It is one of the few industries where you can absorb rust-belt workers." The industry's trade group said wind power added 35,000 jobs in the past year.

Numerous states already have passed renewable-electricity requirements, including California, where the governor last week signed an order requiring 33% of electricity come from renewable sources by 2020.

But the wind industry insists that a national policy is needed to spur utilities to sign long-term deals for renewable energy. Without these long-term deals, wind farms can't get financing. And without wind-farm development, the thousands of jobs manufacturing high-tech blades, towers and other turbine parts could be in jeopardy....MORE

HT: Environmental Capital who writes:

Wind Power: Turbine Makers Clamor for Renewable Standards Too

So, as our colleague Russell Gold reports today, makers of wind turbines are—like the rest of the wind-power lobby–clamoring for strong U.S. government mandates to keep demand for their products healthy in coming years. No surprise there—wind power, like the rest of the renewable-energy industry, lives and dies by government support.

But the focus on the U.S. is revealing. Why wouldn’t China, which has doubled its wind-power capacity every year for the past four, provide the market that would keep General Electric, Vestas, and the rest of the big turbine makers happy?

For starters, China has shown protectionist tendencies when it comes to wind power. European manufacturers, in particular, have griped that they face discrimination in landing Chinese contracts....MORE