Exponential growth in the Wind Manufacturing Industry: the challenge is on

Written by Javier Lanfranchi – Senior Sales Area Manager

The wind energy industry has grown rapidly in recent years, manufacturing capacity is increasing, and the component supply chain is pushed to its limits.

The wind power industry, pushed by the targets of reduction in greenhouse emissions, has started an accelerated growth that is exciting and exceptional, an encouraging trend that is likely to continue in the years to come.

Consequently, this puts enormous pressure on the supply chain, availability of components, timely readiness of construction equipment, materials particularly steel and transport logistics.

And each wind market, principally Europe, Asia and United States Each generates specific requirements for tailored products and services, in global wind turbine development and supply, with more countries joining the hype by the day. This creates also immense challenges and constraints as components shortages slow down the construction of wind turbines. Materials such as steel to name one together with the growth in manufacturing capacities to sustain the new trend of larger wind turbines at higher hub heights.

Developments of large wind turbines depend on several elements and subsequent constraints. Although the main challenges are generally thought to be timely access to components, transport, and erection there is an important aspect that is the social acceptance, sustainability, and political and economic support.

Reduction of costs by MW produced is key to the development of this industry and the answer is the increase of larger wind turbines presenting significant challenges in terms of materials and structures to be employed, with the objective of optimizing performances and withstanding extreme loads and material fatigue. Just small improvements, small modification in the construction of wind turbines means lower costs and therefore the increase in the potential acceptance of this source of energy.

Therefore, the question arises as to what the maximum anticipated size for a turbine is and where will be the best locations for these giants in terms of generation costs.

The tower height of a typical turbine has constantly increased. Typically fabricated out of steel and/or concrete; the most common are the self-supporting conic constructed steel towers. The tower accounts for around 30% of the total investment, costs that will certainly increase in the future due to more technically challenging construction. And for towers the main significant challenge is the logistics. With transportation limiting the diameters means that the wall thickness at the tower base will have to be increased, resulting in higher material costs. Hybrid towers, with concrete bottom sections, can be employed to solve this problem but this augments the installation challenges due to elevated transport and erection costs linked to concrete.

Driven by this scenario, leading wind tower cans manufacturers search for metal forming machines providers like Faccin Group that will help them achieve mass-production with high precision and very limited involvement of the operator. Bending hundreds of cans every month can only be accomplished with Faccin’s wind tower automation system, an innovative plate rolling package, designed to provide manufacturers with the reliability, precision and automation required in this type of manufacturing processes. With this system operators can reach a floor-to-floor production time of 20min per rolled tube.

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Highly technological machines are designed to maximize the productivity; thus, the profitability of the wind tower cans manufacturer. All this is achieved by a precise and fast rolling machine, which helps reduce time in the following steps of the wind tower assembly and welding, an oversized reliable structure able to work 24/7 and a user-friendly CNC, like Faccin’s PGS-Ultra, capable of handling automatically not only the machine but also the handling system.

As a conclusion, there is no doubt that the technological innovations enabling development of very large wind turbines have significant potential to reduce the cost of wind energy. However, availability in materials and components, transportation and logistics challenges might limit the size and height of towers and turbines that can be deployed.

Discussing these constraints and obstacles head-on is a must to find alternatives and solutions and achieve the targets of reduction in greenhouse emissions.

Faccin in collaboration with key players in the wind manufacturing industry offers a unique event to explore the challenges in their current and future operations and manufacturing procedures and the opportunities laying ahead.

The free event will be held on the 8th April, 2021 at 10AM (CEST) and 4PM (CEST). For more information click here