Wind Turbine Manufacturing Capacity Outstrips Demand

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Global wind turbine manufacturing capacity has far surpassed demand, according to a new report from Navigant Research.

The report says that during the past two years, more flexible sourcing strategies across the wind power supply chain have resulted in cost reductions, enabling greater geographic market access while reducing risk and ensuring profitability for wind turbine vendors and their partners in the component value chain. Overcapacity, however, persists in most – though not all – areas of the supply chain, providing purchasers with more choice, flexibility and cost control.

According to the report, while demand in 2014 is projected to be less than 47 GW, annual turbine manufacturing capacity, according to vendor estimates, is likely to exceed 71 GW.

"Oversupply is allowing wind turbine manufacturers to more easily adjust what components they produce in-house, what is outsourced, and when a blend of both is advantageous for cost, technological or geographic reasons," says Jesse Broehl, senior research analyst with Navigant Research.

"Although many manufacturing facilities are running at less than full capacity, product innovation, lean manufacturing and outsourcing are resulting in a highly competitive wind industry ready for the challenges of today's and tomorrow's wind markets."

Blades are a particularly strong area of strategic product evolution and sourcing shifts, according to the report. Turbine manufacturers are making major, capital-intensive investment changes in how blades are designed, what materials are used, the manufacturing processes behind them and what companies they source from, the report adds.

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