Next generation of 4 MW onshore wind turbines on the horizon, with 12 MW offshore products in view

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Last week, Vestas released the latest iteration of their wind turbine product portfolio, with a new 4 MW product platform accompanied by a 150 m rotor diameter. As the wind energy market continues to mature and become more competitive, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are forced to continually innovate new wind turbine products to remain differentiated to their competition.

Technical innovation in the wind energy market continues to advance at a rapid pace. Competition in global markets is fierce, and OEMs are pushed to continually innovate new wind turbine products to differentiate. MAKE Consulting has published a research note on this topic, entitled Next Generation Wind Turbine Models, including 35 pages of analysis and over 50 charts detailing expected new product and technology developments for seven leading turbine OEMs and Aaron BarrSenior Technology Advisor at MAKE Consulting, reviews this new trend.

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Wind turbine life cycles are expected to shorten, as new products will displace wind turbines released only a few years ago. Furthermore, as new larger rotors are introduced in the onshore market, many existing products will be migrated in wind class suitability. This product migration to higher wind classes will further reinforce the competitive cycle for new product innovation.

The penetration of 3 MW platforms has increased steadily, and now represents over 23% of global installs, up from 8% just 5 years ago.3 MW turbines were installed in more than 38 global onshore markets in 2016, indicating that even emerging markets are quickly transitioning to the latest generation of larger wind turbines. The 3 MW product platforms benefit from economies of scale relative to Balance of Plant (BOP), Operations and Maintenance (O&M) and logistics costs. As these platforms secure more volume, the economies of scale are also extending to the supply chain and resulting in more competitive turbine costs.

The trend to larger turbines will manifest in the next generation of 4 MW platforms for the onshore market. The rotor diameters of these next generation onshore products will exceed 150 m. Significant logistics challenges loom for blades longer than 70 m. Many OEMs will respond by innovating modular blades and advanced logistics solutions to circumvent shipping limitations.

In the offshore market, leading OEMs are expected to accelerate wind turbine growth even faster than the onshore segment. The next generation of 10-12MW wind turbines are expected within the next years, as R&D is in full swing within the leading offshore wind turbine manufacturers. The massive 12 MW wind turbines with rotors in excess of 200 m are being planned for the offshore market, as wind turbine size remains the single most important factor to differentiate in the offshore segment.

MAKE anticipates that this trend will continue, and we will see many more new product announcements over the coming months and years.

Source: MAKE Consulting