The wind industry was built on lies and runs on subsidies; cut the subsidies and the whole thing collapses in a heartbeat.
Wind turbine makers like Germany’s Siemens are having a rather miserable time of it, of late. Subsidies were already being wound back across Europe (and with it demand for these whirling wonders) when an ambitious Russian decided to storm across Ukraine in an effort to expand Russia’s territorial control.
All of a sudden, focus was drawn on Europe’s critical dependence upon Russian gas; a critical component of their reliance upon intermittent wind and solar.
The Germans have now renounced their purported disdain for nuclear and coal-fired power, opting to have power as and when they need it. The French, among others, are determined to expand their nuclear power generation capacity, as if their lives and livelihoods depend upon it. Needless to say, the love affair with the unreliables is under review.
Among Europe’s wind turbine makers, Siemens has been particularly hard hit; its wind turbine manufacturing unit is performing so badly it has been dragging its parent’s share price to the floor.
And its relationship with Gamesa is under a cloud after Siemens Gamesa suffered a $329 million second-quarter operating loss; that entity has suffered a 50% collapse in its share price in the last 12 months.
Now, its financial woes are being felt abroad.
Siemens Gamesa has just been forced to axe 260 jobs at its blade manufacturing plants in Iowa. Its management are putting a brave face on events, claiming that the layoffs are part of a brief “hibernation”. But, reading between the lines, the troubles are unlikely to dissipate anytime soon.
With the bulk of its operations and business in Europe, Siemens Gamesa will continue to see its fortunes wane, which must necessarily affect its global operations.
And, in the US, the success of rural Americans in preventing their communities being overrun by these things is having a discernible impact on the demand for wind turbines across the USA. Over 300 planned projects have been canned by local governments since 2015, under pressure from furious locals. Every rejected project means a loss of sales for the likes of Siemens Gamesa.
So, the unfortunate employees receiving their lay-off packages best not get their hopes up that the “hibernation” will end with the reinstatement of their jobs.
Hutchinson Siemens plant temporarily shutting down in July, most employees to be laid off
The Hutchinson News
20 May 2022
The Siemens Gamesa plants in Hutchinson and Iowa will be shutting down this summer and laying off most employees as the company awaits new wind turbine orders, officials announced on Friday.
The blade manufacturing plant in Fort Madison, Iowa, will close first, in June, followed by the Hutchinson nacelle manufacturing plant in July.
The company called the closures a “hibernation,” indicating it would be temporary. But a spokesman said it was unclear how long the plants would be closed, depending on market conditions.
“Employees at both facilities — 171 in Fort Madison and 92 in Hutchinson — will be released from employment during the hibernation,” the release stated. “All affected employees will be provided with a comprehensive separation package, which includes severance pay, benefits continuation, career counseling, resume preparation, and job placement assistance.”
Plant numbers had, at both locations, already been down following workforce reductions announced in February.
“The hibernation of our manufacturing and assembly facilities is an unfortunate but necessary measure to address the current challenges in the U.S. onshore wind market,” Shannon Sturgil, CEO of Onshore North America, stated in the release.
“We continue to pursue new orders and remain fully committed to finding a path in support of our Fort Madison and Hutchinson manufacturing facilities,” she stated.
Lingering issues cited
The company blamed an inability to take orders during a patent challenge last year, which it eventually won, followed by a slowdown in wind farm development pending the passage of anticipated federal climate legislation.
“Based on the current load, they will finish the blades in Iowa before they finish the nacelles in Hutchinson,” Andrew Luther, Siemens Gamesa Communications Manager of North America Corporate Affairs, said in explaining the staggered shutdowns.
“We don’t have exact dates” when each plant will close, he said. “There is always wiggle room around when production finishes.”
“A very small core team” will remain at each facility to maintain the buildings and prepare to ramp them back up “once we hit a point to start a ramp-up process,” Luther said.
No projections on reopening
Officials had no projections on when the plants might reopen, but Luther said that is the intent.
“Siemens Gamesa continues to pursue new orders and monitor the market situation,” he said. “Obviously, climate legislation is still undergoing negotiations in Congress. All that can affect when the hibernation ends. We will continue to pursue orders, and we’ll continue to monitor the market, but we don’t have a predicted date. It depends on a lot of factors out of our control.”
On Feb. 10, the corporation, which is headquartered in Spain, announced it was laying off 37% of its employees in Hutchinson, going from 186 to 117. It also cut 121 jobs in Iowa at that time.
It was unclear if additional cuts subsequently were made or if the difference between employment levels then and the layoffs announced Friday is how many will remain on the payroll.
The company at that time cited the same causes.
Siemens AG opened the plant in Hutchinson in 2010. At its height, it employed 365 people.
Siemens Gamesa in the news
Last month, Siemens Gamesa reported a $329 million second-quarter operating loss, and Chief Executive Jochen Eickholt, in a call with analysts, said there were “a number of underestimated complexities” delaying the launch of the company’s new 5X onshore wind turbine.
Meanwhile, Siemens Energy, which has a 67% stake in the company, announced Wednesday it was considering buying all the shares it does not own in an attempt to gain full control of Siemens Gamesa.
If it does, the intent is to “delist” the company from public trading.
The troubles at Siemens Gamesa have caused its share price to fall more than 50% over the past year.
Siemens Gamesa was created as a separately listed company five years ago, after the merger of Siemens’ wind business with Spain’s Gamesa.
Siemens Energy, which held a 59% stake in the new company after the deal, was then spun off of German-based Siemens AG in September 2020.
The Hutchinson News
via STOP THESE THINGS
June 1, 2022 at 02:31AM