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China's Wind Energy Causes Stir

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- China officially passed the U.S. as the world's largest wind market, but reaching that milestone had little affect on shares of China's leading wind-power companies.

Along with Sinovel, whose shares fell 10% in debut trading on the Shanghai Exchange Thursday, there has been weakness across the Chinese wind power sector.

Sinovel's decline brought its stock price to 81 yuan, after pricing in its IPO at 90.

Among other major Chinese wind-market players, Goldwind and the U.S.-listed Ming Yang Wind Power Group (MY - Get Report) also saw their shares come under pressure in recent sessions.

Another negative headline for Sinovel this week came the day before its shares began trading: three of its workers died while installing a wind turbine. Even before the tragic mishap, Chinese authorities had been investigating saftey in the industry in the wake of several accidents involving turbine makers.

While a case can be made that Sinovel's IPO valued its shares too richly, the bigger data point out of China was the release of the annual wind-turbine installation number in 2010: the industry grew by 16 gigawatts, bringing the total wind market in China to 41.8 GW.

The U.S. market, which by all accounts experienced a disastrous 2010, totaled 40.2GW.

Despite capturing the world record, China's wind-energy business now faces the standard concerns that come with scale: Slowing growth. Indeed, the 16GW figure may have disappointed some investors, according to Ardour Capital analyst Jinming Liu, who had targeted 18GW for the year, among the most bullish of projections.

"This 16GW was a very good number, but it didn't put to rest the fears of a slowdown in China," Liu said, noting that in previous years the rate of growth in China's wind market had doubled. The 16GW came on top of an existing market of 25GW at the end of 2009.

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