Enercon eyes exports, new turbine

An Enercon turbine at 4 Energia’s Virtsu wind farm in Estonia

An Enercon turbine in Estonia. The company wants to increase its export sales

Enercon, Germany’s largest wind turbine manufacturer, is shifting from a domestic into a global supplier as it slowly becomes less dependent on its home market, according to sales director Stefan Lütkemeyer.

Lütkemeyer added that Enercon plans to unveil a new model in 2016.

The Aurich, northwestern Germany-based company was pleasantly surprised that it climbed to the number-three position among global wind turbine manufacturers last year in recent industry rankings, Lütkemeyer said during a presentation at the Hanover industrial fair.

Enercon to date has sold close to 34GW in turbines, of which 45% was in Germany, 41% in the rest of Europe and only 14% in the rest of the world.

Last year, out of 3.9GW in global sales, 41% were achieved in the German home market, while 42% came from the rest of Europe, and 17% from other countries in the world, Lütkemeyer said.

He added that the company aims to increase sales by 5% this year, and to shift to a distribution of 33% of sales in Germany, 46% in the rest of Europe and 20% in the remainder of the world.

Lütkemeyer didn't disclose any details about the new turbine, but during his presentation he pointed to a general trend toward larger machines. "We won't close ourselves to that,” he said.

Industry commentators have raised some doubts over whether Enercon’s business model is sound for the future. Due to legal battles and patent disputes in the past, the company is not present in the US, China and India – some of the world’s most thriving markets. Enercon also has opted out of the offshore wind sector.

But the company is growing in other promising markets such as Canada and Latin America, Lütkemeyer stressed, and already has supplied more than 50MW of turbines in 128 different countries each.

The sales manager as a positive example mentioned the upcoming Uruguayan market, where Enercon produces wind turbine towers locally and is supplying 50 turbines of its E-92 model for the Peralta wind project as a turnkey order.

Another area of expansion are the Netherlands, where Enercon plans to complete toward the middle of next year the Noordoostpolder wind park, or NOP, with 26 turbines of its giant 7.5MW E-126 model. The project is challenging due to a location that besides being onshore is below sea level, Lütkemeyer stressed.

Enercon is also expanding in Sweden, where it expects to complete the 85MW Skogberget onshore wind park in the northernmost part of the country with 36 of its 2.35MW E-92 model in the middle of this year, he told Recharge at the sidelines of the Hanover fair.

Enercon is pursuing the project together with Swedish developer Svevind.

Skoberget is a sub-project of the giant Markbygden wind power project in Pitea municipality that if all phases were to be completed could feature more than 1,100 turbines with a capacity of between 2.5GW and 4GW, according to Svevind’s website.

Construction in northern Sweden is complicated, though, as temperatures can go down to 25 degrees Celsius below freezing point, and construction is only possible for about eight months of the year when there is sufficient daylight, Lütkemeyer explained.

If construction continues at the same pace as currently, it could take until 2020 or 2025 until the more than 1,000 turbines that have met approval requirements would actually be built, he added.

But that would also require an upgrade of grid infrastructure, Lütkemeyer added. The wind park currently being built can still use existing power lines linking large hydroelectric dams in Sweden’s North to population centres to the South.

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