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Focus on technology development to continue reducing cost of energy

Just recently MAKE released its global wind turbine trends report 2016. According to this report the wind energy market will continue to mature as onshore turbines follow evolutionary technology developments, while revolutionary technology developments will be the focus for new offshore turbines. Turbines continue to grow larger, and become more productive, cost-effective and reliable due to technology developments. The coming decade will bring further change, but the role of technology has shifted as the industry continues to evolve and work towards levelised cost of energy (LCOE) grid parity. Differences in regional demand preferences are forcing many turbine OEMs to pursue platform-based wind turbine solutions that enable mass customisation to meet local needs, while providing scale to serve the global market. Wind energy is nearing the critical point of grid parity in many markets, where LCOE is competitive with traditional forms of thermal power generation. In this issue we present an example of a platform-based wind turbine solution. NGC StanGear is a serialised product platform based on an application database, standardisation and a modularisation concept for wind gearboxes. You can read more about the concept here.

Despite long product cycles, offshore wind defines the innovation horizon, as the most radical technological approaches continue to be applied to this segment according to the report from MAKE. The turbines of 10MW plus that will be introduced over the coming years are stretching the limits of traditional technologies, as these turbines require new technologies in order to deliver a cost-effective turbine with reliability to withstand the offshore environment. Every component must be effectively reengineered at this scale, resulting in dramatically different drive-trains, rotor systems and power electronics.

Personally I think it might take a little longer than MAKE predicts before the 10MW plus turbines will be used on a large scale. The new technology must be tested before it can be used on a large scale. Also the latest tender in Europe showed that with the current (largest) turbines the price of offshore wind is declining rapidly. The winning consortium bid for the second Borssele offshore wind farm in the Netherlands was € 5.45 per kilowatt-hour. By comparison, DONG Energy Borssele 1 BV won the previous tender a few months earlier with a price of € 7.27 per kilowatt-hour.

But it is a fact that new innovative technology is necessary to lower the cost of energy. And it will be my honour to keep presenting these new technologies in Windtech International in 2017 and beyond. Let me end this Publisher’s Note with the most important thing: my best wishes for 2017. I hope it may bring health and prosperity for you and for your families.

Enjoy reading,


Floris Siteur
Publisher

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