Wind of austerity chills Spanish turbine industry

Updated 15 July 2013

Wind of austerity chills Spanish turbine industry

AOIZ, Spain: Wearing face masks and wielding sanders, two workers smooth the surface of a massive fan for a wind turbine at the Gamesa factory in Aoiz, a town in Navarre, northern Spain.
But in hard times, it will be winds in Finland, not Spain, that make the finished product spin.
Last year, the plant delivered a wind turbine park to Malaga in southern Spain and another to Burgos, in the north, said factory manager Javier Trapiella.
"Now we don't produce for Spain," he added.
"It has all stopped."
For green energy producers, Spain has changed from a paradise with generous public support to a markedly less agreeable home.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government is imposing an austerity regime to plug an accumulated energy sector deficit of 26 billion euros ($34 billion).
On Friday, the horizon darkened further with the approval of reforms cutting annual state aid for renewable energies by more than one billion euros.
The change is enough to place at risk huge strides in the Spanish wind energy industry.
Spain ranks as number four globally in terms of installed wind energy but has dropped to seventh place in terms of new projects, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.
"For Spain, wind energy has really been an energy revolution. In 20 years we have gone from producing zero kilowatts to producing 20 percent of national demand today," said Heikki Willstedt Mesa, director of energy policy at the Spanish Wind Energy Association.
In the fourth largest economy of the euro zone, wind is often the main source of electricity.
"Unfortunately, since 2009 the government has slowed the development of wind energy in Spain with various regulatory measures," he said.
Cuts in state aid of 35 percent, removing subsidies for new turbines since the start of 2013, and then the latest changes announced on Friday: The sector has been hit hard and manufacturers are the first to feel the pain.
In February, French group Alstom closed two factories in Spain and laid off 373 employees.
"The economic crisis and the absence of a stable regulatory framework have slowed domestic demand," the group said, stressing the lack of activity in its Spanish sites.
Spain's Gamesa, which is among the industry's world leaders, gave the same reasons as it laid off 606 of its 4,800 staff in Spain and closed two blade factories in recent months.
Gamesa notably pointed to the "regulatory uncertainty" , the persistent economic crisis and financial problems in the sector, especially in southern Europe.
Making a wind turbine is almost a work of craftsmanship, said Gamesa's Trapiella. "You need good hands," he said. The fiberglass and carbon fiber blades measure 62.5 meters (205 feet) and weigh 15 tonnes each.
When finished they will leave by truck overnight for the port of Bilbao to be shipped by sea to Finland. About 40 blades are scheduled for delivery by February.
"If 90 percent of our sales were in Spain 10 years ago, it is the exact opposite today with 90 percent of sales coming from abroad," said Jose Antonio Cortajarena, Gamesa's corporate managing director.
"We are in more than 50 countries," he said, citing Mexico, Brazil and India as key markets.
"Even if our corporate headquarters are in Spain, the risk, our dependance on the Spanish market, is limited."
The Spanish Wind Energy Association is not so reassured.
"We have destroyed 25 jobs a day in the wind energy sector since the start of the year and the industry is on the borderline, it cannot take any more cuts," it said.
The industry has already suffered heavily.
"Of the 43,000 jobs we had in the wind industry in 2009, there are only 23,000 left, said Sergio de Otto, secretary general of the business group Fundacion Renovables (Renewables Foundation).


Huawei given 90 days to buy from US suppliers

Trader Tommy Kalikas works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. (AP)
Updated 20 August 2019

Huawei given 90 days to buy from US suppliers

  • Shortly after blacklisting the company in May, the Commerce Department initially allowed Huawei to purchase some American-made goods in a move aimed at minimizing disruption for its customers

WASHINGTON: US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday the US government will extend a reprieve given to Huawei Technologies that permits the Chinese firm to buy supplies from US companies so that it can service existing customers, even as nearly 50 of its units were being added to a US economic blacklist.
The “temporary general license,” due to expire on Monday, will be extended for Huawei for 90 days, he told Fox Business Network Monday, confirming an expected decision first reported Friday by Reuters. He also said he was adding 46 Huawei affiliates to the Entity List, raising the total number to more than 100 Huawei entities that are covered by the restrictions.
Ross said the extension was to aid US customers, many of which operate networks in rural America.
“We’re giving them a little more time to wean themselves off,” Ross said.
Shortly after blacklisting the company in May, the Commerce Department initially allowed Huawei to purchase some American-made goods in a move aimed at minimizing disruption for its customers.
The extension, through Nov. 19, renews an agreement continuing the Chinese company’s ability to maintain existing telecommunications networks and provide software updates to Huawei handsets.
Asked what will happen in November to US companies, Ross said: “Everybody has had plenty of notice of it, there have been plenty of discussions with the president.”
When the Commerce Department blocked Huawei from buying US goods earlier this year, it was seen as a major escalation in the Sino-US trade war.
The US government blacklisted Huawei, alleging the Chinese company is involved in activities contrary to national security or foreign policy interests.

BACKGROUND

The US blacklisted Huawei, alleging the Chinese company was involved in activities contrary to national security or foreign policy interests.

As an example, the blacklisting order cited a pending federal criminal case concerning allegations Huawei violated US sanctions against Iran. Huawei has pleaded not guilty in the case.

The order noted that the indictment also accused Huawei of “deceptive and obstructive acts.”
At the same time the US says Huawei’s smartphones and network equipment could be used by China to spy on Americans, allegations the company has repeatedly denied.
Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, is still prohibited from buying American parts and components to manufacture new products without additional special licenses.
Many Huawei suppliers have requested the special licenses to sell to the firm. Ross told reporters late last month he had received more than 50 applications, and that he expected to receive more. He said on Monday that there were no “specific licenses being granted for anything.”