Windmills are one of the leading growth sectors in alternative energy. Europe can boast a premiere position as they have a long windy coastline.
But now the rush to wind power has come up to the wall of limited supply of windmills. The Wall Street Journal reports, “improved technology has made it possible to build bigger, more efficient windmills. That combined with surging political support for renewable energy, has driven up demand. Now makers can’t keep up – mostly because they can’t get the parts they need fast enough.”
Electricity producers in Europe are leading the US producers in adopting alternative technologies, especially using wind power. Now that a bottleneck has cropped up the Europeans have an edge. Actually a number of US projects are stalled for lack of equipment.
But the Europeans are cashing in because they signed long term supply contracts with the manufacturers. They have even bought into suppliers of the equipment. Now they’re looking good.
Ibedrola a utility in Spain, paid $4 billion US for 24% of Gamesa SA, the Spanish turbine maker and contracted most of the new windmills through 2009. Community Energy, a Pennsylvania utility asked Gamesa for assistance for its stalled project. Ibedrola helped them out and in the end, bought Community Energy outright. Ibedrola is prowling other parts of the US. It bought two other wind farms, one in Iowa and one in Virgina. The latest news is Ibedrola offered $4.6 billion US for Maine’s Energy East Corp.
The drive for all of this is a European plan that mandates 20% of Europe’s electrical power is to come from renewable resources. That is from an estimated 6% in 2007. Wind is projected to play a major role.
The US is working, too. An astonishing 2,454 megawatts of windmills installed in 2006 alone. That’s equal to 2 fission reactors and the apparatus to transform the energy to electricity. As the world’s largest wind power installer in 2006, the US starts from a less than 1% wind power base.
The drive isn’t just the US government. Rather there are 20 states with price supports for wind power and the US providing a tax credit for “wind-park” development.
So who are the players for an investor or utility managers to talk to?
Vesta – Denmark, with 4,239 megawatts of produced windmills in 2006.
Gamesa - Spain, logging 2,346 megawatts.
GE – US, at 2,326 megawatts.
Enercon – Germany at 2,316 megawatts, and
Suzlon/REPower – India/Germany 1,437 megawatts.
Follow the money for more money . . .
Cleanedge has a projection out which proposes that solar panels and wind power will at least triple in the next eight years, and alternative fuels will quadruple.
The hunt is on, with Iberdrola on top, a Portuguese utility bought Horizon Wind Energy of Houston Texas; another Spanish utility bought a firm in the US midwest. British Petroleum’s unit BP Alternative Energy bought Virginia’s Greenlight Energy in 2006.
The Wall Street Journal quotes Emerging Energy Research reporting that 20% of the US wind power base is European owned. Is that where all your petro dollars went when you bought gasoline?
The US isn’t completely flat footed. Chicago’s Invenergy LLC closed a $1 billion US deal with General Electric to secure its own supply of windmills. And Florida Power and Light is ranked #2 worldwide for its use of wind energy technology.
Making money in this field might be just getting some stock in the main players. Since February, Vesta Wind Systems has gained 70%. You could look at clean energy sector funds, with some funds traded on exchanges.
Keep in mind that solar panel, projected to triple, wind projected to triple and alternative fuels like biofuels projected to quadruple, stock plays might be a important part of your financial growth plans