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.

05/13/2013


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.



No comments
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.
Water use efficiency: Diminishing water quality, escalating costs; Lowering building energy use; Power for fire pumps
Building envelope and integration; Manufacturing industrial Q&A; NFPA 99; Testing fire systems
Labs and research facilities: Q&A with the experts; Water heating systems; Smart building integration; 40 Under 40 winners
Maintaining low data center PUE; Using eco mode in UPS systems; Commissioning electrical and power systems; Exploring dc power distribution alternatives
Protecting standby generators for mission critical facilities; Selecting energy-efficient transformers; Integrating power monitoring systems; Mitigating harmonics in electrical systems
Commissioning electrical systems in mission critical facilities; Anticipating the Smart Grid; Mitigating arc flash hazards in medium-voltage switchgear; Comparing generator sizing software
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.