Longer Blades and New Materials Affecting Wind Industry, Report Says
A recent report from Navigant Research examines the significant forces shaping the global wind power industry's supply chain, including analyses of more than 500 component and materials suppliers.
As the wind turbine manufacturing industry has evolved and matured, blades have become a strong area of strategic product innovation and sourcing shifts. Turbine makers are making major capital-intensive investment changes in how blades are designed, what materials are used, the manufacturing processes behind them, and what companies they source from. According to a recent report from Navigant Research, these innovations are dramatically reshaping the wind turbine supply chain.
“This is a time of high creative ferment in the wind power industry,” says Jesse Broehl, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “Long dominant blade designs and manufacturing processes are evolving, with repercussions all along the value chain—from the materials (such as resins, fiberglass, and carbon fiber) to the blade suppliers and the turbine manufacturers themselves.”
These shifts are especially notable in the offshore market, according to the report. Innovation in design and materials science has led to the development of high-tech blades over 80 meters long. The resulting wind turbine upscaling is leading to multi-megawatt offshore wind turbines, each of which can provide enough electricity for more than 7,000 average European households.
The report, “Supply Chain Assessment 2014 – Wind Energy,” examines the significant forces shaping the global wind power industry's supply chain. The nearly 300-page report examines 11 component categories and profiles more than 300 component suppliers; it also identifies more than 200 suppliers across four groups of materials. Analysis is provided of the top wind turbine vendors and their manufacturing capabilities, supply chain relationships, and technology strategies. Key offerings and the capacity for leading suppliers, located primarily in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America, are quantified. The report also analyzes the major technology trends within each of the component and materials categories, as well as the related manufacturing capacity and supply versus demand dynamics expected through 2018.