Australian wind project owners worried as Senvion faces insolvency

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German wind turbine maker enters “self-administration proceedings” in struggle against debt, delays to projects and increased market competition.

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German wind turbine maker Senvion has entered what it describes as “self-administration proceedings” as the company struggles with debt, delays to projects and increased market competition from its major rivals.

The situation has raised concerns for projects and workers in Australia using Senvion technology, or where it is the contractor, including the 212MW Lincoln Gap wind project near Port Augusta in South Australia and the huge Murra Warra development in Victoria.

In Australia, Senvion has installed more than 470MW of wind energy generation, with a further 430MW under construction as at September 2018.

For its completed projects, Senvion also has full-service agreements for all of these wind farms. A spokeswoman said in a statement: “Senvion Australia is working closely with wind farm owners and contractors to ensure that we can continue to safely deliver and operate wind farms in Australia.”

The Hamburg-based company says it had come to the decision to take the action after refinancing discussions with lenders had “so far not come to a positive conclusion.”

The company said the move was supported by the company’s main shareholders, lenders and major bond holders, and day-to-day business operations would continue as normal, with the goal of full recovery.

“Although we could not yet win some breathing space through a financial restructuring, Senvion has a fundamentally sound and strong business model. Together with all our teams, the management and I are implementing measures to return the company to economic stability,” said CEO Yves Rannou.

“By entering the preliminary proceedings under self-administration, we aim to gain the flexibility and speed required to press ahead with the initiated transformation program. We are in the process of discussing financing options. If successful, we may be able to exit the initiated process successfully.”

According to Reuters, financial sources say the company needs at €100 million ($A158 million) in the short term to keep operating.

Reuters also reports that Senvion has faced delays and penalties on big projects, while the wind industry as a whole has seen falling prices and increased competition as it moves away from subsidies and towards an auction-based system favouring lowest bidders.

The princing power of market leaders including Siemens, Gamesa and Vestas is also thought to have put smaller wind turbine suppliers under pressure.

Sophie Vorrath

Sophie is editor of One Step Off The Grid and deputy editor of its sister site, Renew Economy. Sophie has been writing about clean energy for more than a decade.

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