Danish wind energy giant Vestas Wind Systems is cutting an additional 1,400 jobs – bringing total redundancies for the year to more than 3,700 – to reduce costs by more than €250 million in preparation for an expected decline in wind turbines installations in 2013. Bloomberg reports that the world’s biggest turbine maker says it expects to have 19,000 employees at the end of 2012, down 16 per cent from the end of 2011. The company is still considering whether to cut 1,600 jobs in the US – a move that depends on the outcome for a much debated federal wind tax credit that’s due to expire this year.
Vestas – which has slumped to a €5 million pre-tax loss in the second quarter, compared with a €76 million profit for the same period in 2011 – reduced its forecast for current-year sales on Wednesday from 7GW worth of turbines to 6.3GW; next year is expected to yield 5GW. The Guardian reports that chief executive Ditlev Engels said: “2013, as it looks today, is probably going to be the toughest year that the wind industry has seen for a number of years.” The company blamed the sales slump on delays to projects in China and an expected slowdown in the US.
“The industry is in very poor shape and overcapacity is all over the place,” said Heinz Steffen, an analyst at Fairesearch GmbH & Co. in Germany, in an interview with Bloomberg. “The outlook for 2013 is not too promising. The PTC will expire and it will be difficult to generate orders in the US,” he said, referring to the aforementioned US wind tax. Vestas’ shares fell 6.4 per cent to 31.77 Danish krone on the Copenhagen stock exchange after the news, having previously been bolstered by speculation of a Chinese takeover that has so far failed to materialise.
In other news…
While Australian politicians continue to overlook the low-hanging climate action fruit that is energy efficiency, Bloomberg reports that China is considering spending an estimated 2.37 trillion yuan ($US373 billion) on projects for conserving energy and reducing emissions in the five years through 2015. The nation plans to reduce the amount of energy it uses to produce every unit of GDP by 16 per cent by 2015 from 2010 levels, the State Council said in a statement late yesterday.
Geodynamics says it has reached a significant milestone in its efforts to extract energy from the superheated granite lying deep in the Cooper Basin, reporting that its Habanero 4 well has reached its targeted depth of 4,204m and appears to have intersected with the targeted fracture zone as anticipated. Further tests will be necessary to establish a flow and then install a 1MW pilot plant at Innamincka.
Climate and energy think tank Beyond Zero Emissions has estimated that Santos’ development of shale gas resources in South Australia’s Cooper Basin will increase the state’s household bills by $263 a year. BZE says that while Santos has conceded shale gas would double the wholesale price of gas, adding $163 to average gas bills, it neglected to mention the impact on electricity prices, which BZE said would add at least $100 to power bills a year. Santos has argued that its shale gas foray would “only” cost households around 20 per cent more annually. “Further gas supply adds security, and over the long term it’ll actually flat-line the prices that a mum and dad will pay,” Santos CFO James Baulderstone said last week.
The Gillard government has announced two funding rounds to kick-start the development of carbon farming ideas, projects and methodologies under its Carbon Farming Initiative. $7.2 million will be made available over five years under the Methodology Development Program, and $5.2 million over five years under the Research and Development stream of the Indigenous Carbon Farming Fund.
DLP Senator for Victoria, John Madigan, will put a motion to the Senate to halt the development of a wind farm at Bald Hills in the state’s east. ABC News reports that Senator Madigan says the 50-turbine wind farm, being built by Mitsui, is a threat to nationally and internationally listed migratory birds.
In what Greens Leader Christine Milne has described as “a great example of the parties working effectively together to get an outcome… (to) benefit all Australians,” the Senate will inquire into the causes of Australia’s high and rising energy bills and the options for bringing them down while still cutting the pollution that drives global warming.
A recent government-commissioned poll in Japan has found that 47 per cent of Japanese citizens would prefer for zero nuclear power generation for their country. Bloomberg reports that 16 per cent of those polled said they favored the nuclear ratio at 15 per cent, while 13 per cent endorsed 20-25 percent.