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Onshore turbine manufacturers have opted to pursue evolutionary improvements to their next generation wind turbine products, while dramatic technology shifts are occurring in the offshore product landscape according to Make’s report Global Wind Turbine Trends 2017.

Turbines have grown larger, more productive, cost-effective and reliable due to technology investments. The next decade will bring further change, but the role of technology has shifted as the industry continues to evolve and work towards being competitive with other forms of power, in terms of levelised cost of electricity (LCOE).

Differences in regional demand preferences are forcing many turbine OEMs to pursue platform-based wind turbine solutions that enable mass customization to meet local needs, while providing scale to serve the global market. Wind energy has reached grid parity in many markets, where LCOE is competitive with traditional forms of thermal power generation.

Despite long product cycles, offshore wind defines the innovation horizon, as the most radical technological approaches continue to be applied to this segment of the wind energy market. The 10+ MW turbines that will be introduced over the coming years are stretching the limits of traditional technologies, as these turbines require revolutionary technologies. Reliability is paramount in the offshore environment, but the next generation of offshore turbines must also focus on providing cost-effective power to compete in the future rounds of subsidy free tenders. Every component must be effectively re-engineered at this scale, resulting in dramatically different drive-trains, rotor systems and power electronics.

In the onshore segment, technology initiatives will become more evolutionary in nature, as turbine OEMs leverage existing platforms, technologies, and cost positions. In addition, dramatically different components will suffer from a supply chain with insufficient economies of scale, limiting the cost competitiveness of revolutionary technology.
Consolidation of turbine OEMs is well underway, as many of the leading turbine manufacturers will need to make tough decisions on their comprehensive portfolio. Chinese turbine manufacturers are also undergoing a period of consolidation, as the domestic competitive field has largely stabilized, and turbines’ track record have assumed a larger role in asset owners’ purchasing decisions as the market has evolved.

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