The speed of technological innovation being seen in the wind energy sector is advancing at such a pace that we can now expect to see 4 MW onshore wind turbines and 12 MW offshore wind turbines making their way into services in the next few years.
This is the key conclusion from a new report from renewable energy analysts MAKE Consulting, which this week published a new research note highlighting next generation wind turbine models. Specifically, MAKE predicts that with the pace of technological innovation continuing at such a rapid clip, forcing ever-more impressive advances, the competition in global market will continue to be fierce, forcing original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to continually innovate and create bigger and better wind turbines to stand out from the crowd.
One of the primary methods OEMs are attempting to differentiate themselves from the pack is to continue to lower the Levelized Cost of Electricity for their wind turbines. Further, most OEMs are focusing their attention on deploying wind turbine platforms, which allow for greater maneuverability, and allows the companies to accelerate their design cycles. MAKE also points out that this insanely competitive marketplace is causing Turbine Life Cycles (TLC) to shorten, with current products being quickly outpaced and replaced with newer and larger turbines.
More specifically, MAKE Consulting highlights the greater penetration of the 3 MW wind turbine platforms, which now represent more than 23% of global wind energy installations, up from 8% only 5 years ago. In 2016 alone, 3 MW onshore wind turbines were installed in nearly 40 markets, with even emerging economies looking to the larger turbines for their needs. This trend is likely to see the next generation of 4 MW wind turbines quickly make their way to market, and MAKE expects OEMs to announce their 4 MW offerings by the end of the next year.
Interestingly, with severe logistic challenges inherent in turbine blades longer than 70 meters, MAKE expects many OEMs to begin developing modular blades to get around these limitations.
Moving offshore, MAKE predicts that the next generation of 10 to 12 MW wind turbines are similarly only a couple of years away, with R&D already in full swing to bring these turbines to market. 12 MW wind turbines are likely to require rotors in excess of 200 meters.
Already we have seen OEM MHI Vestas reveal interim development progress, earlier this month revealing its 9.5 MW wind turbine, part of its V164 series. This currently ranks as the “most powerful serially-produced wind turbine in the world,” according to MHI Vestas, with massive 80-meter blades that result in a swept area of 21,124 meters-squared, which is larger than the London Eye.
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