By Herman K. Trabish
GE remains the dominant supplier of wind turbines to the U.S. domestic market, but competitors are coming at it from every direction of the globe.
GE turbines are generating 40 percent -- or 18,873 megawatts -- of the 48,770 megawatts of installed U.S. wind energy capacity. That is 12,519 turbines averaging about 1.5 megawatts each.
Vestas Wind Systems A/S of Denmark made 19 percent, or approximately 9,154 megawatts, of the turbines generating U.S. installed capacity. That's 6,996 turbines averaging under 1.3 megawatts each.
Of the 6,816 megawatts of wind capacity installed in the U.S. in 2011, GE led with 29.4 percent (2,006 megawatts from 1,252 turbines). Vestas (OTCPK:VWDRY) was close behind, with almost 29 percent (1,969 megawatts from 952 turbines). Siemens was again third, with just over 18 percent (1,233 megawatts, 534 turbines).
The real news is the wind industry's growing list of manufacturers supplying the domestic turbine market. It grew more in 2011 than in any year since 2008. Among other newcomers were Goldwind (OTC:XJNGF) and Sinovel, two of China's biggest wind makers. And while manufacturers who were outside the top ten list added only 0.05 percent of U.S. installed wind capacity in 2007, their share of it in 2011 was over 5.5 percent.
Furthermore, while there were only seven manufacturers with over 1,000 megawatts of U.S. installed capacity (GE, Vestas, Siemens, Mitsubishi, Gamesa, Suzlon and Clipper), there were nine manufacturers last year that added over 150 megawatts to it (Nordex and RePower).
The average size of all turbines installed in the U.S. also took its biggest jump since 2008, moving from 1.77 megawatts to 1.97 megawatts. This strongly suggests that GE's workhorse 1.5-megawatt machine and others in its class, while still dominant in terms of sheer numbers built, no longer represent the industry standard. Turbines of 1.8 megawatts and 2.3 megawatts also represented a large percentage of those installed in 2011, and both 2.3-megawatt and 3.0-megawatt turbines were also built in significant numbers last year.
The U.S. wind turbine manufacturing industry and its supply chain had 472 facilities at the end of 2011. But the industry has already seen layoff announcements and cancellations of plans for new facilities from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Vestas and others, due to Congress' decision not to extend the industry's 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour production tax credit (PTC).