The global wind turbine blade market is expected to deliver revenue of between $6.6 billion and $7.7 billion annually from 2016 to 2025, according to Navigant Research, as well as technological innovations that continue to provide incremental yet significant advances.
Wind turbine blades represent one of the most valued parts of the wind energy supply chain at the moment, with more research & development (R&D) and investments being dedicated to wind blades than any other component in wind turbines. According to a new report from Navigant Research, which analyzes 22 wind turbine manufacturers and 18 independent wind blade manufacturers, the focus on wind turbine blades is increasing. “Materials companies are competing intensely to bring higher modulus and strength solutions to market by offering new major chemicals, polymers, composites, and stitched fabrics materials to increase the strength-to-weight value proposition,” the authors of the report write, noting that the value proposition resulting from these incremental-gains “result in significantly more energy captured.”
“The strength-to-weight value proposition is important in the wind turbine business, where incremental blade size increases result in significantly more energy capture,” said Jesse Broehl, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “Additionally, because of a major increase in mergers and acquisitions in the global wind market among wind turbine vendors and wind blade manufacturers, many companies along the value chain are being forced to assess and reevaluate their wind blade market strategies.”
Further, wind turbine blades are also a critical part of strategic decision-making for wind turbine original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), where the question of whether to design or manufacturer blades in-house or whether to outsource them raises significant concerns.
The primary conclusion from the report reveals that the level of focus placed on the wind blade market yields a significant annual revenue take of between $6.6 billion and $7.7 billion annually between 2016 to 2025, resulting in cumulative blade revenue exceeding $72.4 billion over the forecast period. The Asia-Pacific market, specifically China, represents a massive portion of the total global market, with $30.8 billion.
Navigant Research nevertheless points out that “growth rates in the wind blade market over the 10-year period are limited” due to the fact that the wind energy market is a large and mature market, which has already seen many years of significantly high growth — growth which Navigant believes has “largely peaked and leveled out in most markets.” There is growth to be had over the next few years in China and the United States, but that is expected to level out between 2019 and 2021, while there will be higher and longer-term growth in South Africa as well as throughout Latin America.
The report also highlights several emerging trends and market issues the authors believe are likely to confront the market over the forecast period. Of specific importance is the role that large rotors with longer blades will play, increasing annual energy production and making wind energy generation possible on sites that may not have been previously economically feasible. Specifically, while the wind industry has traditionally preferred locations with high wind speeds for their wind farms, the technological innovation of wind blades is making medium- and low-wind speed locations more economically viable — and this can have a significant benefit, as these sites are often closer to where the demand is needed.
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