General Electric (GE) has notified staff that it plans to lay off about 20% of the workforce in its U.S. onshore wind business. A report from NASDAQ this week said the cuts are part of a plan to restructure and resize the onshore wind division, as the group “is grappling with weak demand and rising costs.”
The announcement comes just more than a week after renewable energy giant Siemens Gamesa said it would cut about 3,000 jobs from its operations across several countries. Energy analysts said GE’s cuts would equate to hundreds of jobs in the onshore wind turbine group.
The report said GE alerted workers in North America, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East about the staff reduction in a note sent Oct. 5. The report said GE also plans to cut the unit’s onshore wind workforce in Europe and Asia Pacific at a later date.
A spokesperson for GE Renewable Energy in an emailed statement to media wrote: “We are taking steps to streamline and size our onshore wind business for market realities to position us for future success. These are difficult decisions, which do not reflect on our employees’ dedication and hard work but are needed to ensure the business can compete and improve profitability over time.”
GE has said its onshore wind unit has struggled with higher costs for raw materials, and like other windpower businesses has been challenged by supply chain issues. Onshore wind has been the largest renewable energy business in GE’s portfolio, employing about 38,000 workers worldwide at the end of 2021.
GE reported a $419 million operating loss in its renewable business in the second quarter of 2022. It’s a common theme among the largest windpower companies, as competitors Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy and Vestas Wind Systems reported operating losses of some $365 million and $157 million, respectively, in Q2.
The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act should help wind companies’ business in the U.S., as the legislation extends production and investment tax credits. GE, Siemens Gamesa, and Vestas this year have generated sales of about $17.3 billion in their renewable energy business, a 13% drop—from $20 billion—over the same period a year ago.
GE’s onshore wind unit accounted for about 15% of the company’s industrial sales last year, according to company financial data.
—Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).