EnergyWatch

New Siemens Gamesa platform to turn around onshore segment

The new wind turbine model, which reached 6.6 MW from the first order, is the most competitive machine in the product portfolio, says Siemens Gamesa, which sees the giant unit as the cornerstone of a turnaround plan for its onshore wind business.

Photo: VINCENT WEST/REUTERS / X00957

10 months. It didn't take more time than that between Siemens Gamesa announcing the first sale of its coming 5.X platform until the model's sales surpassed 1 GW in October. Well, actually it took one day less.

Some might say that's an easy claim to fame, being that selling a whole gigawatt goes fast when turbines are supplied with per-unit nominal capacities of 6.6 MW. Even so, the OEM is quite satisfied.

"The truth is that we are really proud of our one gigawatt of orders that we have communicated so far," says Siemens Gamesa Chief Regions Officer Onshore Enrique Pedrosa, adding:

"So, this has been the fastest technology of all. Ever."

Platform customized for Nordics

Four of the hitherto five orders with a combined capacity of 739 MW pertain to projects in Sweden, where units have been sold both in the 155-meter rotor version and of the even larger 170-meter variety. The last of the orders, for 312 MW, is for a development in Brazil.

Both markets are known for fine wind conditions and favorable regulatory preconditions allowing for large wind turbines. Similarly, both of these markets have ranked among the world's largest, right under the US and China.

Neither of these aspects are, however, automatic guarantees for success – a truth the OEM has certainly felt in recent years, when Nordex and Vestas have been markedly stronger in Nordic markets while Siemens Gamesa had lagged behind and had tough problems with delivering the orders that did manage to enter the books.

That's also why it's no coincidence that Scandinavia's latitudes have seen so much of the new platform's sales volume, the CRO says

"Regarding details on the Nordics, somehow we wanted it, because we were definitely not as strong in the Nordics as we wanted to be. So, the 5.X platform – both the 155 and the 170 – is a strong fit in the Nordics, because it was intended to be. In all of its features, in nominal power, the large rotor, and also in many of the additional features," Pedrosa says.

Cornerstone

Although this is not to say the new turbine is only meant for a few markets. The Nordics and Brazil are not the only regions where the German-Spanish manufacturer has been under pressure in recent years; the fluctuating and loss-incurring onshore wind business was as such the main factor behind now-former Chief Executive Markus Tacke's discharge this summer. In the meantime, his successor, Andreas Nauen, has initiated a business turnaround.

For that purpose, the OEM has highlighted three key concepts: productivity, operational excellence and innovation. At first glance, this could seem somewhat airy, but the geared 5.X platform is a specific example of the sought-after innovation, Pedrosa says.

"This platform is a cornerstone, and we want to base our sales more and more on it. It's the most competitive wind turbine in our entire product portfolio, and that's why we're having such a good response from the market. The same thing will also apply to other markets, because it's a global turbine," he says and points to another historically major market in Europe.

"Sweden is well known for pioneering new technologies; it really embraces new products, and the permitting scheme in the Nordics is really amicable. It's not as long as in Germany, but we're also having a good acceptance in Germany, but it will be just a few more years before it really shines through in the order books."

Australia and the US

The company is already now starting its initial maneuvers to take shares on far more distant markets. This applies to, for instance, one of the decade's absolute largest and which has thus far been dominated by Vestas, GE and to a certain extent Chinese OEM Goldwind.

"To create volume, we will first direct much of our attention to Northern and Central Europe as well as Brazil. After that, Australia will be an obvious market to explore. Right after that, we'll look toward the US," the CRO relays.

English Edit: Daniel Frank Christensen

(Note: Citations translated from Danish with English transcription notes)

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