The wind industry in Europe needs to make sure that the dependency of its supply chain “on other parts of the globe” is not becoming too big, Siemens Gamesa CEO Jochen Eickholt said at the opening of the WindEurope conference and exposition in Bilbao.

Energy independence and sovereignty are important elements of European thinking, which also implies that competence in innovation in wind energy technologies should not be reduced, Eickholt told an audience of sector experts and politicians.

“At the same time, we need to make sure we can continue to supply technologies without too much dependency on other parts of the globe,” he said, adding that still more innovation will be needed to reach Europe’s ambitious renewables targets.

“And we also need to make sure that capacities on the manufacturing side of things are not reduced down to minimum."

Eickholt’s comments come as Europe’s wind industry is increasingly facing competition from Chinese OEMs, which are pushing into overseas markets on the back of vast overcapacities in China, cheaper labour costs, and at times cheap indirect state financing.

While the number of Chinese wind turbines sold in Europe is still relatively small, Europe’s wind manufacturers are increasingly dependent on components from China or other parts of Asia.

The main exporter of turbine-related parts to the EU in terms of trade value is China, which has contributed more than 50% of the import value from 2018 to 2022, on average, Rystad and WindEurope said in a report released Tuesday. India, Turkey and the US follow as other large exporters of turbine-related components to the EU.

“We need to make sure that dependencies are not becoming too big. Right now, there is the danger of that. We in the wind energy are a little bit afraid of becoming the next solar industry. That should not happen.”

Europe’s and particularly Germany’s solar panel-making industry was globally leading, but in the last decade became eclipsed by Chinese rivals which offered cheaper produce thanks to lower labour costs, state financing and in part dumping prices.