Several major trends made themselves apparent at this year’s China Wind Power 2010 trade show in Beijing, arguably the largest show of its kind in Asia. Held at the new Chinese International Exhibition Center from October 13 – 15, over 425 vendors presented their products and services to a fast-growing industry in China that is drawing increasing attention abroad. Two years before the show was relatively small, a quarter the size of what it has become. Then, as well, only the largest international makers like Vestas and General Electric displayed their wares. Now, reflective of the growth of the industry at large, the show was far more international than it ever has been before, with scores of Western components makers and service providers – mostly from Europe – claiming exhibition space.
The Danish Pavilion was well-populated with components manufacturers that pride themselves with decades of experience in the wind power industry. They sported the latest component technologies to raise the efficiency and longevity of wind turbines. The Danes have learned since entering China to work closely together to coordinate sales and project activities, as evinced most recently in the opening ceremony, early summer 2010, of a single operating space near Beijing in which five Danish wind power components makers are collaborating to expand their presence in the Chinese marketplace. A recent phenomena sees Chinese setting up their own sales offices and R&D centers in Denmark.
The United Kingdom’s pavilion of regional representatives was oriented toward attracting Chinese wind power product manufacturing investment in the country. And though the United States had no collection of local government or business representatives in a single area, the state of Iowa showed its interest in attracting Chinese investment in the state.
Not only were international players in greater evidence, but Chinese companies have become far more international in their own offerings and outlook. Four years before the Chinese wind power industry had seven turbine manufacturers. Now, it has eighty, a handful of which are amongst the largest in the world. The Beijing show saw nearly two dozen of these with displays of their products. The boulevard of expertise and technology traversing China’s borders and the rapidity with which the two-way traffic has developed indicate China just might reach its ambitious goals to see nearly five percent of its energy in 2020 generated from wind power. Chinese manufacturers like Goldwind and Sinovel may sooner than later realize their global aspirations to become major producers of wind turbines and components that rival those of their European and American idols.
Chinese manufacturers promoted their intention to become international players by having Westerners at their pavilions represent the vendors. Goldwind, which has hired an executive staff of Americans in the United States to run its American operations, was not shy about putting an American out front its booth to present its technologies to potential Western buyers. Other recent Chinese entrants into the wind turbine market have employed engineering European staff imported from Germany and Denmark. Western companies and engineering talent are taking advantage of the wealth of funds and the potential size of the market available in China’s wind energy industry, while Chinese companies are importing much needed technical know-how. In other words, there is a much greater sense of commerce between East and West in the industry than the mainstream media would otherwise let on.
Suzlon, an Indian wind turbine maker, and Gamesa, a Spanish producer, have been in the news of late because of the multi-million deals they’ve been making in China. Sulzon even flew their CEO into the show to project their intent to make serious inroads into the Chinese market. Chinese television crews scurried around the large display areas of the companies, while lines of attendees streamed out of the booths. Though the major wind turbine makers have been locked out of Class 1 and Class 2 auctions by the tight relationships between the central government and the State-Owned Enterprises, foreign technologies are snapping up landscapes in the less blustery classes throughout China.
China’s wind in the year to come will increasingly open up to the world.
B.S.D. Mistry and Basile Waite of TrendsAsia contributed to the Trade Show overview.