Siemens AG, Europe’s largest engineering company, will add at least 2,000 jobs at its renewable-energy division this year, as the business expands to meet rising demand for clean energy.
Siemens has invested “hundreds of millions” of euros in wind energy since it entered the industry with an acquisition in 2004, Rene Umlauft, chief executive officer of the unit, said in a telephone interview yesterday. The unit employed 800 people in 2004 and plans to add to its current workforce of more than 7,000, he said.
“We had a record order intake in 2010, and our goal is to increase orders by a double-digit amount this year,” Umlauft said. He reiterated a plan to make the company one of the top three makers of wind-energy equipment by 2012. The renewable-energy unit posted a 23 percent increase in new orders for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, the fastest growth among Siemens’s divisions. The order backlog today stands at more than 10 billion euros ($13.5 billion), Umlauft said.
“We tripled our research-and-development budget for wind in the past two years," he said. "We are going to spend a lot of money.” Some of the new jobs will be added in the U.S., where Siemens’s wind business has about 1,500 people, he added.
The division opened new wind-generator factories in China and the U.S. last year, and will start operations this year in Tillsonburg, Ontario. Siemens is preparing to open wind plants in India, Brazil and Russia, and will start producing turbines in the Port of Hull in northeastern England from 2014.
Growing in China
Siemens plans to strengthen its position in China, the fastest-growing market for wind energy last year, by bundling some of its production with a local joint venture partner for better market access, he said. Blade production will remain at Siemens, he said. The new Shanghai plant will also produce turbines for export, he said.
China will overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest wind market “soon,” while the number of wind companies in the country will decline, Umlauft said, adding there are about 60 to 70 now.
The U.S. is a “very big market” for Siemens, Umlauft said. Siemens is fighting Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the world’s largest maker of wind turbines, for the No. 2 position in the U.S., while General Electric Co. leads in that market.
Munich-based Siemens is expanding in offshore wind turbines, the fastest-growing wind segment and the one where it’s the market leader worldwide. It’s moving into the U.S. and is considering expansion in offshore to China, Umlauft said. “I am pretty confident about our technology in offshore; it’s been in operation for 20 years,” Umlauft said.