Ill wind

Turbine Giant is Reaping the Storm

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    At a time when many companies are chanting the mantra “Adapt or die,” one giant of Germany’s wind power industry is retreating into a 1980s management style, causing widespread unease among the workforce.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Nicole Fritsch-Nehring, co-managing director of Enercon, will resign today and leave by the end of the year
    • Hans-Dieter Kettwig, Enercon’s CEO, is blaming her for the lacking innovative strength.
    • A nephew of company founder Aloys Wobben will take over Ms. Fritsch-Nehring’s reponsibilities.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Arbeiten an Windkraftanlage
Enercon workers disassembling a wind turbine near the city of Hannover. Source: Julian Stratenschulte / DPA.

In mid-September Enercon’s co-managing director, Nicole Fritsch-Nehring, sent four short, sharp sentences to her colleagues. Michael Strobel, the technical director of the wind turbine manufacturer, had left the company. Ms. Fritsch-Nehring said there was to be a “restructuring in the research and development department.”

The message came as a surprise to many. After all, Mr. Strobel was a recognized specialist who performed a key function in the business. Joachim Stilla, head of innovations strategy, had also just left. That meant many of the 600 engineers in Enercon’s innovation division were left with only Ms. Fritsch-Nehring in charge.

Yet the woman who Windpower Monthly had named the world’s most important personality in the wind energy industry in 2013 didn’t take charge of the engineers. She disappeared.

Since September 20th no-one’s seen her at work, according to employees. Her parking space is empty. Her appointments have been cancelled.

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