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Wind Turbine OEMs Compete to Meet Higher Technology and Lower Price Expectations

MAKE Consulting has published its annual Wind Turbine Trends report. Analyzing an industry that faces intensifying challenges of wind development constraints, higher demands of wind asset owners and narrowing price premiums, MAKE expects technology to play a critical role in determining the success of wind energy market players.

Hoejbjerg, Denmark, December 22, 2011 --( Striking a balance between cost and performance is at the heart of every design decision being made today. In past years, leading vendors deploying wind turbines with the highest levels of performance were able to cultivate a price premium for their products. In today’s market, rampant competition across the globe has narrowed those price premiums and challenged profitability for all industry participants, including market leaders.

Wind asset owners are more discerning than ever before and have developed their own sophisticated analytical tools to gauge the lifecycle costs of their wind farms. This level of sophistication has placed new burdens upon wind turbine OEMs, driving innovation in turbine architecture, component design, and serviceability to achieve the lowest possible cost of energy.

Optimal wind sites, combining excellent wind resource, close proximity to transmission and local support of wind energy are in short supply in mature markets. The need for larger rotors, taller towers and more efficient drivetrains is critical to developing sub-optimal wind sites profitably. Additionally, unique regional challenges are promoting new technology adoption, from more stringent grid connection regulations in China to offshore wind development in the EU to meeting the call for IEC III systems in the US.

“Turbine OEMs have rose to current market challenges, deploying a flood of new products to address the wide ranging needs of a global marketplace,” says Dan Shreve, Partner and Director at MAKE Consulting. “Design philosophies and R&D strategies are also widely varied, but virtually all turbine OEMs are focused on strategic components that have the most significant impact on cost of energy.”

Increasing energy capture through the use of larger rotors has the single largest impact on wind turbine cost of energy. Turbine OEMs are pushing the envelope of design, moving toward aero-elastic tailored blades that enable heightened turbine performance while minimizing fatigue loads. Carbon fiber and automated production processes are being harnessed in support of these new advanced airfoil designs. Some turbine OEMs are focused on traditional materials and improving blade aerodynamics to achieve similar results, while others still are focused on blade trailing edge enhancements that minimize noise.

It is clear that technology will play a critical role in determining the success of wind energy market participants throughout the value chain. MAKE maintains its conviction that advanced technology development will shape the future of the global wind industry and prevent it from moving towards a commoditized space. As a consequence, industry leaders will distinguish themselves from the competition by successfully navigating an increasingly demanding market environment with a structured design approach that strikes the proper balance between price and performance.

Wind Turbine Trends 2011 is a 69 page report which provides a thorough review of the current state of wind turbine technology, evaluates new areas of innovation within the wind power industry and assesses the commercial impact of these trends. The report delivers a comprehensive component level analysis of a commercial, utility-scale horizontal axis wind turbine while maintaining a systems level perspective on the cumulative impact of strategic design decisions.

Contact Information
MAKE Consulting
Neha Mirchandani
+45 70266628

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