Editorial

Wind turbine industry apes automotive industry and makes a paradigm shift towards modularisation and standardisation to lower LCOE

Shashi Barla

Principal Analyst, Global Wind Supply Chain and Technology

Shashi leads our global wind turbine technology and supply chain practice

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Turbine OEMs adopting “LEGO blocks” approach shorten the time to market

Modularisation and standardisation are essential to lower LCOE and increase the pace of new product introduction for wind to stay competitive in global markets. The global wind fleet will more than double this decade, expanding into new markets and serving an abundance of different wind regimes. Turbine customisation will be critical to project performance and developer profitability. OEMs must deliver regionally tailored platforms harnessing modular design concepts to fill that need. Achieving greater economies of scale via standard component sourcing and optimising global production strategies will be essential for OEM profitability.

Turbine OEMs need product agility to compete in a subsidy-free environment; reducing the industrial CAPEX and supply chain costs is paramount towards achieving this goal

Shashi Barla, Principal Analyst, Global Wind Supply Chain and Technology

4.XMW onshore turbines now competitive across IEC class segments including the low wind (IEC III) merchant markets, proving technology evolution yielding higher energy per turbine enhances wind project profitability

Wind energy is increasingly subject to merchant project exposure, both through longer life expectancies and a general reduction/removal of subsidies worldwide. The cost/performance curve of the industry’s latest turbines has made even these higher risk projects financially attractive for low risk investors. Vestas’ recent success securing subsidy-free projects for a number of its 4.X platforms demonstrates that LCOE reduction trajectories remain intact.

Wind and automotive industries evolve along parallel paths, where software and smart controls are the key focus.

The wind industry has taken inspiration from the automotive sector, increasing the role of software solutions for its turbines. Software and digital algorithms are migrating from the wind farm level and gaining traction at the turbine level as well. Functionality impacts many capital components such as towers and rotor blades for monitoring the loads and deflection, structural elements, main bearings, gearboxes, generators and blade bearings

Turbine technology trends between our outlook period – 2019 and 2028e – vary across regions.

In the US market, the near-term focus on high net capacity factor remains intact. Post-PTC phase-out, larger rated turbines will start to gain market share due to a lower balance of plant costs and unexplored medium wind speed sites.
Brazil will skip one turbine generation and zoom past from 2.XMW to 4.X/5.XMW technologies due to flexibility in siting and low shear. Taller towers and longer blades will be accommodated at most sites in Brazil.

China and India are on the cusp of mass transition to 3.XMW technologies. Large rotors for the low-wind and ultra-low wind 2.XMW technology variants are expected to extend commercial life cycles, benefiting from established cost-effective supply chain Some Chinese OEMs have launched the first generation of 4.XMW platforms even before series production of the 3.XMW, posing significant reliability threats to technology scaling.

Markets like Australia will become key targets to launch next generation platforms due to minimal tip height restrictions and acceptance of larger turbines.

The latest generation of 4.X/5.XMW turbines will be deployed in most markets, including IEC I markets such as the UK and Ireland, as merchant market deals gain momentum.

Technology options including cold climate versions, low noise blades, segmented blades and size-optimised drive trains will be key to future product commercial success in the EMEARC region.

12+MW segment gains share post-2023 as leading offshore OEMs launch next-generation technologies. The savings demonstrated through the balance of plant costs will accelerate the adoption of larger rated double-digit offshore turbines.

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Insight

Wood Mackenzie's Global Wind turbine technology trends 2019 report projects the latest technology developments across key capital components and how these advancements will impact the future of the industry. The report deep dives into the global and regional onshore and offshore turbine technology evolution, helping the industry understand the technology and product strategies employed by turbine OEMs and component suppliers. It contains more than 60 pages of in-depth insights into global, regional and component-level dynamics.

Global wind turbine technology trends 2019

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