Next generation of 4MW onshore turbines on the horizon, with 12MW offshore in sight

The pace of technical innovation in the wind energy market continues to advance at a rapid pace. Competition in global markets continues to be fierce, and OEMs are forced to continually innovate new turbine products to differentiate

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New wind turbine designs have been introduced to the global market with increasing frequency, and MAKE expects this trend to continue. Competition amongst turbine Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) has intensified in core markets, causing most OEMs to innovate new turbine designs to differentiate their product portfolios.

Considering the significant competitive pressures, all turbine OEMs are exploring methods to differentiate on product performance and cost position, to deliver the lowest Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE). Most OEMs are now deploying a platform approach to product development to accelerate design cycles and leverage common components across products.

The competitive environment is causing Turbine Life Cycles (TLC’s) to shorten. Fierce competition and pressure to lower Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) will shorten TLCs, as current products are replaced by next generation platforms. As large rotor products are introduced, many existing products will be migrated in wind class suitability, improving the competitive position while maximizing the available TLC on a particular turbine model.

In the onshore market, the penetration of 3MW platforms has increased steadily, and now represents over 23% of global installs, up from 8% 5 years ago. 3MW 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 3MW 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 extending to the supply chain in order to reduce turbine capital cost.

The trend to larger turbines will manifest in the next generation of 4MW platforms for the onshore market.  OEMs are expected to announce new turbines in the 4MW segment over the course of the next year. The rotor diameters of these next generation onshore products are expected to exceed 150m.Logistic challenges loom for blades longer than 70 meters. Many OEMs will respond by innovating modular blades to circumvent logistics limitations.

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

MAKE’s Next Generation Wind Turbine Models research note is a 35+ page presentation containing 50+ charts, tables and graphs providing MAKE’s in-depth analysis of future wind turbine product offerings from leading OEMs. The Research Note presents the key drivers and product development strategies, as well as analyses future wind turbine technology demand drivers across global markets.

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