Chinese wind turbine manufacturer to build factory in Europe

After European market entry, more orders will follow steadily, says the chair of Chinese turbine manufacturer Sany which claims to be nearing a contract for a German project.

Sany has big plans.

Partly on product shelves where the Chinese turbine manufacturer, like its compatriots, is not buying into Vestas’ hopes of a slowdown in the technology race. At the beginning of the year, Sany beat Envision’s 10 MW onshore turbine as the first 919 model has a stated capacity of up to 11 MW.

Also, partly on a geographical level: It is also well known that Sany has its sights set beyond the huge but also extremely competitive domestic market like several other Chinese turbine manufacturers. But the company’s European regional manager, Haijun Deng, tells Recharge that they are working towards building a turbine factory with an annual capacity of 1 GW, possibly as early as next year.

”We have a few options in terms of building factories. Our first priority will be in Germany,” he told the media, citing Spain and Turkey as alternatives.

10 MW turbines for Germany

In doing so, his remarks fall in line with the fears in Western wind industry that have been looming for many years. But with the economic downturn in recent years, especially among turbine manufacturers, volume has increased massively. This fact is often used as the main punchline in the industry’s recently revived desire for government aid: The Chinese are coming.

However, Sany has been present in Europe for quite some time not unlike several of its Chinese rivals. In 2012, the turbine manufacturer’s parent company acquired German concrete pump manufacturer Putzmeister. Earlier this year, the company began the process of going public in Frankfurt. Two years ago, Sany’s turbine manufacturing subsidiary was also listed in Shanghai.

The first wind turbine order in Europe has not yet been announced. However, contract negotiations with a customer to build two 10 MW turbines in Germany are so advanced that installation is expected to take place in early 2025, the regional director claims according to Recharge, without naming the customer or project.

Largest growth area outside of China

If an order is landed in Germany, it will open up Europe for Sany. This was stated by Chairman Zhou Fugui on an investor call last week. He also stated that overseas ”will be the company’s largest future growth area.”

”Although it takes a certain process to enter the European market, once you are on the supplier list of European customers, the follow-up orders will come quite steadily,” said the chairman, whom also highlighted Southeast Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and North Africa as potential markets outside of China.

Several announcements, no factories

A few months ago, another Chinese turbine manufacturer was reported to be heading to Europe. In July, El Espanol’s business media Invertia reported, citing anonymous sources, that Goldwind was in Spain to explore the possibility of both buying projects and setting up a factory. 

The former market leader in China has come under pressure in recent years from competitors such as Sany, which last year was the fifth largest manufacturer in China and the ninth largest in the world. In the first half of 2023, Sany has reportedly received orders for 8.35 GW, almost 50% more than Vestas announced in the same period.

Overall, Chinese dominance in the wind market often looks inevitable. Since 2020, more than half of the global build-out has been supplied by Chinese turbines, and this is set to remain the case for the foreseeable future. On the other hand, it should also be noted that the presence in both the North American and European markets remains manageable.

Despite announcements of local production in the near future. Two years ago, Ming Yang announced in an interview with Bloomberg its plans to build a wind turbine factory in Europe, but since then there have been no further announcements about those plans. Similarly, the turbine manufacturer has also failed to follow up on its European debut order for onshore turbines for the small Italian coastal park, Taranto.

(Translated by DeepL with additional editing by Christian Radich Hoffman)

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