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Key to success is credibility

May 04, 2012

As we move into the summer it is worth taking stock of where we are and thinking a little about the future. Key to a successful future - and the topic of my recent speech at the RenewableUK: International Small and Medium Wind Conference here in Glasgow - is the issue of credibility.


With just one small wind turbine, at Gaia-Wind, we have a very focused approach. We are committed to taking it through every certification, test, design calculation, and aero elastic model that we can find!

Customers need to know that their suppliers are sound and in good corporate health, that we will be around in the future. We have found that those investing in larger number of turbines will overwhelmingly use bank loans: They need approval of the lender for the turbines they choose.

Lenders in turn look for data: for proven track record, reliability, availability numbers, and service records showing proper service cost estimations. In short: for credibility.

At High Craighall Road, things are going from strength to strength. Over the last couple of years, we have moved from having a handful of people in our company, to a position where we now provide more than 35 jobs with a similar amount supported in our supply chain.

More than 500 of our turbines have been “in the ground” for a combined operational time of more than 14 million hours. That’s over 1,500 years!  And we are the only manufacturer to offer a turbine with a tried and tested design time of over 19 years; next year is a 20th birthday!

Credible global partners

Over the last weeks we have been able to announce orders for almost 200 Gaia-Wind 133 11kW turbines for England and Wales and we have set out an international expansion programme including a record export order to supply TALCO Electronics - the leader in the US distributed wind industry - with up to 50 turbines.

This success came after Gaia-Wind swept the board in the annual survey of US small wind turbine industry professionals.* We beat off opposition from the States as well as further afield to win the order which will more than double Talco’s sales in this market.

Having built great experience with our UK and Ireland distribution partners, we have been working hard to identify the best operators for European markets. So I’m really pleased that we now have good partners in place in France and already have one turbine “in the ground “, near Montpellier.

Great progress is also being made in Italy, with our new Milan office now up and running. We are still in the earliest stages but already have firm orders for more than 20 turbines with the potential for many, many more. We already have two distribution partners in Italy and will bring more on board as we develop the market.

Gaia-Wind is, of course, well established in Denmark but the appointment of Jens Busk as European Operations Manager is another step forward. In addition to the Danish operation, Jens will coordinate our development in all European markets.

Governments play a part

These are the building blocks of corporate credibility. But Governments need to play their part, in both requiring credibility from players in this market as well as supporting credibility by their policies. In our UK operation we have two governments developing the policy landscape. Both Scottish and UK Governments are committed to growing the renewables market and the contribution of renewables. Of course, as ever, the devil is in the detail.

We have just completed the public consultation phase of the review of the Feed in Tariff. The current proposals on FiTs are unfair to smaller wind turbines. The economics of wind turbines relate to the scale of the machine: physically larger machines, with taller towers and bigger rotors “see” a better wind resource and sweep more air.  This fact has been lost in the proposal to introduce a flat tariff for turbines between 1.5 and 100kW.

Although the new proposals retain a substantial FIT differential (9.5 vs 21p/kWh) between a 1000kW and a 100kW turbine - a ratio of 10 in terms of kW rating, this is lost at the smaller end, having a disproportionately negative effect on the smaller scale machines. It would be much more fair if the band at 15kW were retained as a real and clear, FIT differential. It would also provide a more credible outlook for the future of the sector.

Johnnie Andringa

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