In the midst of a constantly evolving market landscape, the year 2015 has been marked by significant new product development, acquisitions by turbine original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and the introduction of new technologies, according to ‘Global Wind Turbine Trends 2015,’ a report from MAKE Consulting.
Among renewable technologies, wind energy technology is firmly in the lead in terms of levelized cost of energy (LCOE), says MAKE, which adds that wind technology is continuing to mature at a rapid pace and, in turn, bringing more productive, reliable and cost-effective turbines.
The next decade will bring further change, according to the report, but the role of technology has shifted as the industry continues to evolve and work toward LCOE grid parity.
Many technology initiatives will become more evolutionary in nature as turbine OEMs leverage existing platforms and technologies while differences in regional demand will require mass customization of product lines to meet the needs of global target markets, says MAKE.
Wind energy is nearing the critical point of grid parity in many markets, where LCOE is competitive with traditional forms of thermal power generation. The report says much of this progress is due to technical advances; sustained technology improvements will enable wind to be competitive in a subsidy-free environment.
Despite longer product cycles, offshore wind defines the innovation horizon, as the most radical technological approaches continue to be applied to this segment, according to MAKE.Â
Specifically, the 6 MW to 10 MW turbines that will be introduced over the coming years are stretching the limits of traditional technologies. In order to deliver a cost-effective turbine with the reliability to withstand the challenges of an offshore environment, OEMs must effectively re-engineer components – resulting in dramatically different drivetrains, rotor systems and power electronics, explains MAKE.
In the onshore segment, technology initiatives will become more evolutionary in nature, as turbine OEMs leverage existing platforms, technologies and cost positions. The risk appetite of onshore developers does not allow for radically different approaches to turbine design, as dramatically modified components suffer from limited supply-chain options – thus, limiting the cost competitiveness of "revolutionary" technology, the report says.
MAKE's "Global Wind Turbine Trends 2015" is a 62-page report with more than 100 charts, tables and graphs providing in-depth analysis of global wind turbine trends. More information can be found here.