China Blocks Wind Power, Turbine Makers Get Feelings Hurt
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With China looking to wean itself off of coal, and significantly ramp up its wind power production, wind turbine makers were licking their chops at the chance to get into the market. CRIEnglish.com reports that China is the second largest energy user in the world, and the fourth largest producer of wind power, with expectations that it will be the biggest growth market in wind over the next year. In the last year alone, China doubled its wind power production and shows no sign of stopping, so why are international wind turbine manufacturers upset? According to several leading companies, it seems that the majority of contracts are going to Chinese wind turbine manufacturing companies, with roughly one-third of contracts going to international outfits. This has international companies crying foul, and (almost) threatening to take their ball and go home, claiming that chinese installations are sub-par, using poorly manufactured products and siting farms in "a way that would make it impossible to generate the maximum theoretical capacity.
In this pity party, foreign wind turbine manufacturers are ultimately claiming that the government is more interested in just getting capacity numbers up rather than increasing electricity generation. Companies claim that Chinese wind companies are so isolated that their products currently have no competition and therefore they haven't had to innovate, meaning that they couldn't cut it on the international market. This means that the Chinese government is creating rules to protect them and keep them in the game. Though, if that is how China wants to make the rules and play their game in their own country, who is to say they are wrong?
To "unofficially" keep foreign companies out, wind turbine companies claim, the regulations to get the rights to an installation keep changing, like a shell game. As soon as hurdles are jumped, taller and trickier hurdles are thrown up, frustrating companies and complicating the installation of wind farms. For example, no turbines under 1 MW are allowed. This rule alone seems ludicrous, (why not allow a smaller turbine, if it would be better for the locale) but knowing that there is a 30% price difference between local and foreign made turbines in China, this rule allows local (cheaper) turbines to be chosen for contracts every time, keeping foreign competition out without having to directly say, "we don't want you." In addition, 70% of the parts in the turbine must come from China, requiring turbine companies to set up shop in China or at least bring Chinese companies into their supply chain.
While they may complain and moan, turbine companies in this article all agreed that at the end of the day 'what'ya gonna do?' In a word, "there is only one China" and their share of the market is just too big, despite all of the hurdles and frustrations, to just get out and leave the potential sales to someone else. Maybe knowing they are the leader means they can set their own pace, make their own rules and ensure that their guys get a piece of the wind-generating pie as well. :Planet Ark
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