Turbine makers not ready for overseas'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 July, 2013, 5:44am


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Mainland wind turbine makers may not be ready for mass sales of their products overseas for five more years, a manufacturer of key components says.

This is because they are lacking marketing and after-sales support on the ground, even if they have got some of their products certified for quality and standards compliance abroad, said Jukka-Pekka Makinen, the chief executive of Switch, a Finnish maker of permanent magnet generators and converters.

"Chinese makers' going abroad was supposed to have happened 2½ years ago," Makinen said.

"But it is not happening in a big way, as they have not yet built enough manufacturing bases and have enough local people on the ground to learn about the way business is done overseas."

Makinen said it would take time for mainland turbine makers to get used to foreign practices. "It is OK when you are doing business with Chinese utilities, where things always get done from the top down," he said. "Overseas, you need to build up local marketing and sales organisations to get things done."

Although mainland makers are supported by state policy banks in their overseas sales ambition, Makinen said, the decision-making process had been inflexible and it took a long time for them to come up with customer financing packages.

In 2010, Han Junliang, the chairman of Beijing-based Sinovel Wind Group, the mainland's largest and the world's second-largest wind turbine maker, said its target was to export half its output by 2015.

Han made the comment after China Development Bank agreed to give US$6.5 billion in loans to back Sinovel's export ambition.

Last year, Sinovel booked overseas sales of 472 million yuan (HK$596 million), accounting for 11.8 per cent of total sales.

In March, quoting figures from the China Wind Energy Association, Sinovel said it led its rivals with a 29 per cent share of the mainland's accumulated export sales.

Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology, the mainland's second-largest wind turbine maker, said in 2010 it was aiming for 30 per cent of sales from overseas markets by last year. In the event it made 11.6 per cent of its sales overseas last year.