A walk through the graveyard of wind energy manufacturers

Consolidation is one of the typical processes of maturing industries. The automobile industry is a good example: in the USA alone, there have been more than 3000 car manufacturers, in fact, at the beginning of the 20th century, there were more than 100 active manufacturers. The wind industry has grown dramatically in the last 30 years and, like other sectors, has seen small manufacturers disappear or be acquired by others. Today we propose a walk through the graveyard of wind OEMs, remembering some companies that made (brief) history in the sector.


Current situation

If we take a look at the ranking of manufacturers, we see that there are 6 OEMs from China, 2 from Germany (SGRE and Nordex), 1 from Denmark (Vestas) and another from the USA (GE). The large number of Chinese companies is striking, but also, for the sector’s veterans, the absence of manufacturers from countries that were once powerhouses such as Spain, the Netherlands or Japan.



Let’s start at home. There was a time when up to 3 Spanish manufacturers appeared in the manufacturer rankings: Gamesa, Acciona Windpower and Ecotecnia. Seen in perspective, it was quite a milestone for a country with no wind power tradition to become a world power in design and manufacture in just a few years. Pioneers such as Esteban Morrás, Joseba Grajales, Juan Luis Arregui and many others who saw the opportunity and took the plunge were largely responsible for this.


The fate of Gamesa and Acciona Windpower is well known: bought by Siemens and Nordex respectively. Both maintain a strong local structure, but it is undeniable that decision-making power is increasingly moving away from Spain.


Ecotecnia was a true pioneer as explained very well in this article by Sergio Fernández Munguía. It was founded in 1984 and in 2007 was bought by Alstom, which later merged with GE. This is the reason why GE still has a strong presence in Barcelona, with an engineering centre.



Something that has always struck me is the lack of US presence in the wind energy sector. Despite being the world’s leading power and one of the main markets, it has never managed to have more than one manufacturer in the ranking. But there have been companies that have tried


  • Clipper

One of my favourites. Founded by industry legend Jim Dehlsen, it was a blend of technological innovation and marketing. Its main development was the 2.5 MW Liberty model, which included an innovative distributed power train, with 4 gearboxes and generators working in parallel.

The company had very ambitious plans. They even launched in 2008 the design of a 10MW offshore model called Britannia. At the time we all thought they had gone mad as the largest turbine at the time was 4.5 MW, although it was clear they were visionaries.

The distributed drivetrain seemed like a good idea on paper, but the truth is that it caused a multitude of problems in the field. Clipper had to face the warranties of the wind farms it installed where it suffered a multitude of problems with the gearboxes and blades. There was an attempt to buy United Technologies but it also failed. It is currently owned by a fund and is dedicated to providing O&M services to the few turbines that still survive.


  • NASA

Yes, the same NASA that launched rockets into space, together with industrial partners such as GE, Westinghouse and Boeing, designed and manufactured innovative wind turbines. As this article from the agency itself explains, it was in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis that NASA set out to explore innovative designs that could be mass-produced. NASA turned to the two-bladed design, and the sizes were incredible for the time, with turbines as large as 4 MW in the 1980s. My favourite is the one installed in Hawaii in 1987 with 3.2 MW of power and a diameter of 97m. It was manufactured by Boeing and was for some time the largest turbine in the world.


Another curious case of a country with great industrial strength that has never managed to have strong manufacturers. And it is not because it has not tried.


  • Mitsubishi

It is an old acquaintance of this blog. It manufactured its first turbine in 1982 and became quite relevant in the first decade of the 2000s with its landing in the USA, but patent problems with GE aborted its plans, as we saw in the article on patent wars.

Offshore it also tried it: through the JV with vestas and on its own with its 7 MW SeaAngel model, a prototype we covered in the second installment of record turbines. Another 7 MW unit is installed in the Fukushima FORWARD floating offshore park.


Mitsubishi left the JV with Vestas so now, it has abandoned the wind business…for the time being.


  • Hitachi

Another industrial giant went out of business after trying to carve out a niche in the industry. In fact, Hitachi was quite successful in Japan with its 2 MW model. In 2016, it went offshore with its 5.2 MW 136m rotor model. In fact, one of the turbines in the Fukushima FORWARD floating offshore pilot park is a Hitachi 5MW with 126m diameter and downwind configuration.

A few years after this milestone, the decision was made to leave the business and become Enercon‘s local partner, offering commercial and maintenance services.



Another country that could have become a power in the sector but fell by the wayside. And it was not for lack of tradition, as Holland is the cradle of traditional windmills that were mainly used for pumping water and drying land. Small manufacturers flourished in Holland, but they gradually disappeared or were taken over by others such as NedWind (by NegMicon). The best known is Lagerway which was bought by Enercon in 2018.


  • XEMC-Darwind

I must admit that I did not know the history of this manufacturer but it is quite curious. It all starts with Zephiros, a company owned by lagerway that designs direct-drive turbines. Zephyros and its designs are bought by the Chinese giant XEMC, developing even 5 MW direct drive offshore turbines.

XEMC went out of business and in 2020 there was some attempt to revive the company, although I don’t know if it was successful.



We finish this trip in italy. In this blog we have already talked about the Italian manufacturer Leitwind, which is still in business and is famous for its turbine with a lookout point in the nacelle. But what few people know is that the industrial giant Fiat also tried to get into the business.

  • Fiat/ENEL

As a result of the collaboration between Fiat and Enel, a two-bladed turbine of 50kW and 13m in diameter was designed in the early 1980s. As a curiosity, its cut-out speed was 35 m/s, i.e. it took a hurricane to stop it. The plan was to install 10 units in Sardinia and even an additional three-bladed one. I don’t know if they were installed, but on the web you can only find photos of the nacelle with the two-bladed rotor exposed on the ground.

But the Fiat/Enel collaboration did not end there. Taking advantage of the NASA’s developments with its high-powered two-bladed models, they launched the Gamma60 project. This was a 1.5MW two-bladed turbine with a 60m rotor. The prototype was installed in Sardinia in 1992.

The project was finally abandoned but the technology was transferred to Seawind, a Dutch company that is still trying to commercialise the concept applied to floating offshore with two-bladed models of up to 18MW. It is possibly the longest-lived project in history, since it was born in the USA in the 1970s, passed through Italy in the 1990s and has ended up in Holland in the 21st century.


And this is the end of the tour remembering manufacturers who have been part of the wind power history and who have left us some very interesting wind turbine models. And we leave for a future second part other manufacturers that have fallen by the wayside.