Bigger is better in the wind generator market

The average power rating of a utility scale wind generator was 1.75 MW in 2011 and is expected to rise to nearly 2.4 MW by 2017.


IMS Research (acquired by IHS, Inc.)For the foreseeable future, wind turbines, and consequently wind generators, will continue to get bigger and bigger—both in terms of average physical size and in the average output power rating of these machines.

The average power rating of a utility scale wind generator was 1.75 MW in 2011 and is expected to rise to nearly 2.4 MW by 2017, according to a recently released report entitled "The World Market for Wind Generators" from IMS Research, now part of IHS.

That may not seem like a large increase, but it equates to roughly 250 more homes per wind generator being supplied with clean renewable power, based on average U.S. electricity consumption rates. With many wind farm projects consisting of more than 100 wind turbines, the relatively minor increases in average output power per turbine can add up rapidly. The number of additional homes potentially supplied by wind power can increase even more in other regions of the world where electricity consumption per household is much lower than in the United States.

"Based on the physics principles involved, a relatively small increase in a wind turbine's blade length and the corresponding swept area exponentially expands the amount of wind energy that is captured and then converted to electricity by the generator," said Greg Johnson, generators analyst at IHS. "Therefore, the utility-scale wind generators market continues to move toward generators with higher output power ratings to keep pace with the growing size of wind turbines."

One factor that will contribute to the increase in average wind generator output power is the expected rapid growth of the offshore market. While the onshore wind generators market is expected to go through a period of volatility and subdued growth through 2017, the offshore market is forecast to grow quite substantially at a 32.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in terms of megawatts shipped over the same period. Offshore wind generators are much larger than their onshore counterparts. The average offshore wind generator had an output power rating of 3.7 MW in 2011 and is projected to grow to an astounding 5.4 MW by 2017.

"The physical size of these electrical machines will also increase considerably as the wind generators market steadily shifts to using more medium and slow speed generators," Johnson said.

In order to operate at medium and slow speeds, a wind generator’s physical size greatly increases in order to incorporate the large number of magnetic poles required. For example, a standard high-speed wind generator consists of 4 magnetic poles, while a slow-speed, direct-drive generator can have upwards of 50 magnetic poles and a diameter of more than 7 m. Based on these factors, wind generator suppliers must keep pace with the market demand for bigger wind generators and adjust their manufacturing procedures and facilities accordingly.

Published in March 2013, "The World Market for Wind Generators – 2013 Edition" provides an accurate portrayal of how the market for wind generators is forecast to perform through 2017 and offers insight into which regions and product categories will experience the fastest growth in the future.

Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
Boiler basics; 2017 Product of the Year winners; Manufacturing facilities Q&A; Building integration; Piping and pumping systems
2017 MEP Giants; Mergers and acquisitions report; ASHRAE 62.1; LEED v4 updates and tips; Understanding overcurrent protection
Integrating electrical and HVAC for energy efficiency; Mixed-use buildings; ASHRAE 90.4; Wireless fire alarms assessment and challenges
Power system design for high-performance buildings; mitigating arc flash hazards
Transformers; Electrical system design; Selecting and sizing transformers; Grounded and ungrounded system design, Paralleling generator systems
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; VFDs in high-performance buildings
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me