Wind Turbines to See ‘Unprecedented’ Growth in Size and Capacity

Unprecedent growth wind power devices

Offshore turbine capacity will increase by orders of magnitude, according to a new report from MAKE Consulting.

Onshore wind turbine size and capacity is on track to continue increasing at a steady pace, while offshore equipment will grow in leaps and bounds in the coming years, according to a recent note from MAKE Consulting on the future of wind turbine technologies.

“It’s actually a gradual shift onshore because markets are moving from 3 to 4 [megawatts],” said MAKE technology consultant and lead author Shashi Barla. “However, offshore turbine sizes are much bigger.”

Offshore, 6-megawatt turbines are now giving way to 7 megawatts. But Barla said next-generation turbines will fall between 12 and 15 megawatts with rotors at 200 to 260 meters. “That’s an unprecedented size,” he said. GE has already announced its 12-megawatt Haliade-X. Top manufacturers like Siemens Gamesa and Vestas will likely follow.

At the same time, Barla said, “product lifecycles are getting shorter," with bigger machines coming into the market more quickly.

In the U.S. that means 2-megawatt and 3-megawatt machines will remain the norm in onshore projects up through 2020, each accounting for a quarter of new product introductions through 2022.

With the Production Tax Credit phasedown, manufacturers will move toward 4-megawatt turbines to improve project economics.

Wind Power Evolution AMER, EMEARC, APAC

At the same time, Barla said, “product lifecycles are getting shorter," with bigger machines coming into the market more quickly.

Europe’s market already favors slightly larger turbines because of land constraints. But the region will also experience the transition toward higher-megawatt turbines as incentives end and auctions for merchant market power-purchase agreements favor larger equipment with lower levelized costs of energy.

“You’re not competing with subsidies anymore,” said Barla.

Uptake of higher-capacity turbines will be more delayed in countries such as China and India in the APAC market. Barla said auctions this year in China will push it toward 3-megawatt turbines with large rotors, while India will transition in the next three to four years.

The APAC market will actually be the largest in capacity, with 186.1 gigawatts. But through the end of 2023, MAKE expects 2-megawatt turbines to dominate.

Europe altogether will have the greatest reliance on large turbines with 3-megawatt and 4-megawatt models making up nearly 100 percent of the market by the end of 2023.

MAKE forecasts that the EMEARC market, which includes Europe and its advanced wind market, will be the only location where 5-megawatt turbines have a noticeable impact, accounting for 38 percent of new products through 2022.

In the offshore segment, U.S. demand is picking up, but technology innovation in Europe will drive development in that market as well as in Asia and the Pacific. Europe's more mature market is seeing faster development of turbines that cross the 6- and 8-megawatt threshold — and even topping 10 megawatts past 2020.

“In the U.S. you can bypass this shift,” said Barla. “Whether it’s current offshore tech or future offshore tech, it’s primarily coming from the European market.”

Siemens Gamesa, Vestas, and GE will all continue to build 2-megawatt machines for use in the U.S. and India.

MAKE notes that Vestas will increase its production and expand its supply chain of 3-megawatt and 4-megawatt turbines in time with the longer PTC cycle in the U.S. and to get the edge on post-2020 growth.

In all regions, Barla said Siemens Gamesa, GE and Vestas “will be well positioned for future growth.”

  Wind Turbines to See ‘Unprecedented’ Growth in Size and Capacity
by Emma Foehringer Merchant, gtm: Greentech Media (25/07/2018)

Auctions and drive for lower LCOE drive unprecedented growth in wind turbines

Competition is forcing wind-turbine OEMs to intensify the pace of innovation to lower LCOE, according to the latest research from MAKE. To improve competitiveness in auctions across global markets, wind-turbine OEMs have accelerated the pace of new product introductions, often with larger rated turbines and longer rotors. OEMs will exploit design margins, optimize investments in the supply chain, and deliver lower LCOE for asset owners, finds MAKE.

Lower prices in big wind turbines

The researchers have found that the competitive landscape — namely the transition in many markets globally to auction systems — are resulting in shorter commercial life cycles of turbine platforms. As a result, OEM business plans and CAPEX investment must incorporate shorter platform and product lifecycle assumptions, with higher volumes offered in auctions to offset those investments.

Wind-turbine platform choices are dominated by regional demand profiles and wind resource conditions. China and India are dominated by 2.0-2.5MW turbine models with specific power ratings of 180-220 w/m2 due to ultra-low wind speed regimes.

First generation 4.XMW platforms are inching toward 5.XMW platforms with power uprates in generators, an increase in gearbox torque ranges, and control system optimizations. The 5.XMW turbines will feature rotor sizes of 160-175+m and towers taller than 180m.

Developers in major markets such as the U.S., historically dominated by high capacity factor turbines, are increasing their deployment of larger rated turbines. The trend will ramp up in the United States post-2020, when 4.XMW turbines see siting in multiple states.

Logistics and transportation are one of the crucial challenges deterring the adoption of larger rotors. The industry are expected to consider two parallel developments tracks for blades on next-generation platforms, one with conventional cost-effective single piece technology and the other with split blades for logistic constrained sites.

  Auctions and drive for lower LCOE drive unprecedented growth in wind turbines
by Michelle Froese, WindPower (12/07/2018)
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