The split of lubricant consumption by region tracks the division of global installed capacity. China is the largest market for lubricants used in wind energy, accounting for 34% of total demand, followed closely by the USA with 21%. Germany and India account for an approximate share of 6% each according to the recent Lubricants for Wind Turbines: Global Market Analysis and Opportunities report by global market research and management consulting firm Kline.
The overall demand for lubricants used in the wind energy industry will increase from 37.6 kilotonnes in 2015 to 53.7 kilotonnes by 2020, reflecting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.4%. The main lubricants used in a wind turbine include gear oils, greases, and hydraulic fluids.
Global lubricant demand in the wind energy industry has positively correlated to the growth in the total installed wind energy capacity. Lubricant demand growth has slightly trailed the increase for wind energy installed capacity. There are several reasons for this, including the penetration of direct drive turbines, which dampens demand for lubricants as does the extension of drain intervals. Drain intervals will slowly increase from three years in 2015 to five to six years by 2020 for on-shore installations and five years in 2015 to six to seven years in 2020 for off-shore installations. As wind turbine capacity has increased, especially beyond 3 MW, the amount of lubricant consumed per MW is also reduced.
Existing lubricant marketers will face the threat of new lubricant suppliers emerging, especially in the service fill market. This threat is particularly notable in China where there is a trend towards "buy Chinese." Besides continuing to partner with OEMs and emerging customer groups, lubricant marketers need to strengthen market entry barriers by stressing their track record and knowledge of products and technology.