(SeeNews) - Jan 31, 2014 - In January’s last week, AWEA says works have commenced on nearly 11 GW of US wind projects in 2013’s closing quarter, statistics show further drops in German solar job numbers and Gamesa unveils plans to close US blade plant, while Chinese Hanergy nears construction start at 600-MW solar factory.
Companies have started construction works at over 10,900 MW of new wind farms in the US throughout the October-December period before the expiry of the Production Tax Credit (PTC). In a report released on Thursday, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said that there were 12,000 MW under construction in 2013, "an historic and unprecedented number of new wind farms". However, due to the uncertainty created before the PTC's last-minute extension, the US installed only 1,084 MW of new capacity last year, as compared to 13,131 MW in 2012.
EU INSTALLS 1.56 GW OF OFFSHORE WIND IN 2013
Wind power statistics this week came from Europe as well. On Tuesday, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) said the European Union (EU) had added 1,567 MW of new offshore wind capacity in 2013, up 34% on the year. Yet, the market is expected to grind to a standstill until 2015 followed by a drop from 2016. Regulatory uncertainties at top markets, such as the UK and Germany, have already led to project delays and decline in the number of new schemes, said EWEA deputy CEO Justin Wilkes.
Industry body Scottish Renewables has expressed similar concerns as at the start of the week it said that offshore wind investments in Scotland for 2013 amounted to only GBP 28.9 million (USD 48m/EUR 35m), down from 2012’s GBP 63.6 million. The sharp 55% drop is a worrying sign for both the industry and the UK and Scottish governments, Scottish Renewables said.
A THIRD OF GERMAN SOLAR JOBS WERE LOST
On the solar front, estimates by the Federal Statistical Office showed this week that a third of the workers employed in Germany's solar industry had lost their job last year. The number of employees fell to 4,800 by November. Employment in the country's solar sector has already more than halved from 10,200 people at the beginning of 2012.
Organisations in Australia also warn of huge solar job losses if the government abandoned the renewable energy target (RET). A new report for the REC Agents Association (RAA) suggests that around 2,000 solar jobs in Australia will be lost immediately and thousands more will be foregone if the target is scrapped.
GAMESA, TOKYO ELECTRON CLOSE PLANTS, HANERGY WORKS ON 600-MW SOLAR FACTORY EXPANSION
On Wednesday, it became clear that wind turbine maker Gamesa USA would shut down its blade factory in Cambria Township, Pennsylvania, at the end of March 2014. The Gamesa (MCE:GAM) unit is closing the plant in an effort to adjust its manufacturing, outsourcing and supply chain strategy to market conditions.
Meanwhile, the board of directors of Tokyo Electron Ltd (TYO:8035) on Thursday cleared the Japanese company’s plan to discontinue its solar manufacturing equipment operations also by the end of March. The decision is the result of continued overcapacity within the production equipment segment and the weak business environment. The move will result in the closure of TEL Solar AG, former Oerlikon Solar, in Switzerland and the Technology Center Tsukuba in Ibaraki, Japan.
In contrast to Gamesa and Tokyo Electron, Hanergy Holding is making expansion plans. The Chinese clean energy company will commence construction of the first 600-MW phase of a huge solar thin-film module factory in Caofeidian, Hebei province, in March. Its subsidiary Hanergy Solar Group (HKG:0566) said Monday it would supply two copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS) thin-film turnkey production lines for the project.
S AFRICA IS MOST APPEALING EMERGING PV MARKET
Last but not least, in this week’s Friday Note comes the IHS Emerging PV Markets Attractiveness Index where South Africa ranked as the most attractive emerging market for photovoltaics (PV) in the last quarter of 2013. IHS Inc (NYSE:IHS) said that the country’s plan to install 8.4 GW of solar capacity by 2030 and its large-scale tendering process that works well have helped South Africa top the index.
Thailand and Turkey occupied the second and third spots in the index, followed by Romania and Mexico.
(GBP 1 = USD 1.646/EUR 1.216)