Stricter rules on the shutdown of Spain’s economy in response to a dramatic worsening of the coronavirus pandemic are forcing wind turbine manufacturers and their suppliers to halt all ‘non-essential’ economic activities until April 9.
The measure, which was only announced in the form of a Royal Decree last night, will further slow activity in Europe’s wind industry as several companies – such as Siemens Gamesa, Vestas and LM Wind Power – have factories in the Iberian country.
Spain as of Monday at noon has the world’s fourth-highest number of reported Covid-19 cases with 80,110, according to the database of the Johns Hopkins University. The country has the second highest number of deaths from the disease, or 6,803 casualties.
Siemens Gamesa – which already had closed a blade plant in Navarre and a power electronics facility near Madrid due to Covid-19 (the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus) – will now pause the rest of activities at production plants and wind farms during the period.
The temporary shutdown now also is extended to a blade plant in Somozas, a nacelle factory in Ágreda, as well as gearbox plants in Asteasu, Burgos and Lerma, Siemens Gamesa said.
“Employees affected by this measure will continue to receive their full salary during this period. Working hours that have not been worked may be made up once activity is normalised,” the OEM said in a statement sent to Recharge.
Still continuing, as they're considered essential activities, are “project activities at wind parks under construction to avoid damage to the installation or danger of accidents.”
The company will also maintain wind farm maintenance activities, as well as the supply and repair of components. For that, Siemens Gamesa will maintain partial activities at its centres in Reinosa, Cuenca, Mungia and Sigueiro.
It was not immediately clear how other OEMs would react to the increased shutdown of Spain’s economy
“The decree was published late last night and we are in dialogue with authorities, unions and employees regarding how to implement the measures. In the meantime, we are ensuring we can adapt to the government’s requirements and preparing to quickly restart operations,” Vestas said in a statement.
Vestas suspended work at its Daimiel blade factory in Spain earlier this month, but then resumed work there after talks with workers’ groups and an inspection by health officials that approved coronavirus measures in place at the plant.
Spain’s wind energy association AEE said it is still evaluating the situation and the text of the government’s decree on the stricter shutdown.
GE-owned LM Wind Power earlier this month had already halted work at two Spanish blade plants.