Wind energy in general is evolving into a product that will soon be dominated by the Chinese—so American insurers will need to adapt and learn about these foreign manufacturers to effectively compete in this segment, says Camilo Posada, assistant vice president and senior underwriting specialist at Chubb Commercial Insurance in Chicago.
As recently as five years ago the biggest wind-power product manufacturers hailed from the United States, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. Today, China leads with a 43 percent share of the world market for wind turbines, according to the World Wind Energy Association.
China added 18,928 MW of new capacity in 2010, the highest volume ever by one country in a single year. By comparison, the U.S. market saw only 5,115 MW of new capacity in 2010, about half of its 2009 installed capacity.
China’s wind manufacturers will likely continue to lead, Posada says: “There’s no doubt in my mind they’re going to be leaders in the next few years. We’re probably going to see the Chinese as the No. 1 manufacturer of wind turbines.”
Still, the U.S. is not stuck in the doldrums when it comes to wind power. The country’s wind-energy industry grew by 15 percent in 2010 and provided 26 percent of all new electric-generating capacity in the United States, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Contributing factors behind this growth are a sharp drop in wind-turbine prices in recent years due to more efficient U.S.-based manufacturing, which also saves on transportation; and technology improvements that make turbines better and more efficient.