Siemens Gamesa to expand further in India despite tender troubles: CEO Markus Tacke
CHENNAI: Global major Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy plans to expand further in India despite a difficult adjustment to the tendering process for wind energy projects, which was initiated in the country last year, its global CEO Markus Tacke said.
The industry faced a painful period in India when production of wind turbines dipped sharply, but the company, believing strongly in future growth prospects, resisted the temptation to downsize, even as it was carrying out a restructuring exercise globally, which saw 6,000 of its 27,000 employees across 24 countries, being laid off.
“The layoffs had to be carried out to take advantage of the synergies arising from the merger of Siemens and Gamesa’s wind business,” Tacke, currently in Chennai, told ET.
HE said several people had left the company on their own. “However, 6,000 jobs is the gross number, not the net figure. It also includes the people who left on their own,” said Tacke. Germany-headquartered Siemens and Spain-based Gamesa merged their wind manufacturing business in April last year.
However, not a single Indian employee has been laid off. “We have shifted people in India from production to services,” said Ramesh Kymal, Siemens Gamesa’s Onshore CEO, India. “We also moved them from wind turbine manufacturing to solar projects.” The company is an EPC contractor for solar projects as well, though on a much smaller scale than wind.
Siemens Gamesa has two turbine blade manufacturing plants at Halol, Gujarat, and Nellore, Tamil Nadu, as well as a nacelle making unit outside Chennai. “We have invested 270 million euro (Rs 2,160 crore) in India in the past few years and intend to invest more by expanding our existing plants,” said Tacke. “India is the second most important global market for us, after Spain.”
Tacke also said that Gamesa, which entered India in 2009, has achieved the landmark of having built 5000 MW of wind turbines in India, making it cumulatively the country’s second largest original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of wind turbines, after SuzlonNSE 0.43 %.
For the last three years, it has been market leader, its production ahead of Suzlon’s, and distributed across seven of the country’s eight wind energy producing states. Siemens Gamesa’s global rivals such as Vestas and GE are way behind it in India. “We’ve been successful here because we have a local team and have adapted to local needs,” said Tacke.
Commissioning of wind projects dipped sharply in India in 2017-18, following the shift from the earlier regime in which tariffs were set by power regulators of the wind energy producing states to tariffs being discovered through auctions. Only 1,740 MW of wind projects were completed in 2017-18, compared with 5,400 MW the previous year. The scenario was ripe for retrenchment but Siemens, despite its global exercise, decided against it, believing it was only a temporary blip.
“The first wind auction by Solar Corporation of India was held in February last year and the next one nine months later in October,” said Kymal. “That led to a lot of wind manufacturing capacity lying idle. We lobbied strongly with the government to provide some visibility about what would happen in the future. We pointed out that the ‘Make in India’ programme was suffering as vendors were shutting shop. Fortunately, the government heard us. Auctions for 6,500 MW of wind projects have been held in the last four months.”