In an effort to continue the downward trend of wind prices around the world, new technology investment will focus on building bigger and better wind turbines, according to new research published by Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables.
“Rapid technology developments have been a large driver of elevating wind to a competitive source of power generation globally,” explained Shashi Barla, senior analyst from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, which is the new energy market intelligence business built from the solar, energy storage, and grid edge experts formerly of GTM Research, the wind consultants and analysts from MAKE, and the global power team from Wood Mackenzie. According to its latest edition of the Global Wind Turbine Technology Trends report, published last week, rapid innovations through to 2027 will serve to continue reducing the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCoE) on the latest wind turbines while at the same time improving their performance and reliability.
“Now that auction systems are driving down power prices worldwide, product and service evolution is paramount,” Barla continued. “While the shift away from generous incentive mechanisms leads to a short-term market dip, the forecasted growth over the next decade makes the market ripe for innovation.”
Put another way, with the natural and inevitable loss of government incentives, the wind energy industry will now need to compete on their own and, in an effort to ensure that prices stay low — and continue to drop — cost reductions will need to come from somewhere. According to Wood Mackenzie analysts, that “somewhere” is the technology value chain, which will seek to maximize profit through investing in innovative design, manufacturing, and maintenance mechanisms. Further, Wood Mackenzie expects companies with global operations, strong financial capabilities, and relationships with leading asset owners will harness their commercial advantages to cement their leadership in critical wind markets.
“We expect the global market share of the top five turbine OEMs to rise to more than 73% come 2027, compared to just 54% in 2016,” said Barla. “Fierce competition is also leading to shorter product lifecycles, as turbine OEMs introduce new product platforms to increase efficiency and performance. Our research predicts the newest platforms will have fewer product variants delivering the same demand volume, reinforcing the evolutionary product strategy approach many turbine OEMs are pursuing.
“The rapid pace of new product introductions will only begin to slow down post-2020. In recent years, new products were released at an accelerated pace, with OEMs embracing an evolutionary strategy that led to the new breed of 4.X MW turbine platforms. This left a series of 3.X turbines in their wake with barely a chance to recoup their tooling costs.”