The markets: Renewable energy (2020)
The global market for wind turbine composite materials could reach a market value of more than 12 billion by 2023 and is expected to grow at CAGR around 9.6% from now to 2023.
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Growth in wind energy. During the second quarter of 2019, 736 megawatts of new wind power capacity were installed in the U.S. The industry commissioned 1,577 megawatts in the first half of the year, a 53% increase over the first half of 2018. Source | AWEA
Wind energy continues to dominate in this segment and remains, far and away, the world’s largest market for glass fiber-reinforced composites. It’s also competing with other heavy users — such as the aerospace industry — for carbon fiber use as blades get longer and blade builders look for ways to lightweight the massive structures without sacrificing performance. Wind turbine blades remain a key market segment for composites.
According to a report titled “Wind Turbine Composite Materials Market (Type: Glass Fiber, Carbon Fiber, Others; Application: Wind Blade, Nacelle, Tower, Base, Others; Manufacturing Process: Resin Infusion Technology, Prepreg, Hand Lay-up, Others) – Global Industry Analysis, Market Size, Opportunities and Forecast, 2017 – 2023” by Acumen Research and Consulting, (Maharashtra, India), the global market for wind turbine composite materials could reach a value of more than $12 billion by 2023 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.6% until 2023.
According to a report by the American Wind Energy Assn. (AWEA, Washington, D.C., U.S.), U.S. wind capacity has increased nearly fourfold in the last 10 years, climbing to 96,433 megawatts. During the second quarter of 2019, 736 megawatts of new wind power capacity was installed in the U.S. The industry commissioned 1,577 megawatts in the first half of the year, a 53% increase over the first half of 2018.
The roster of U.S. wind projects under construction and in advanced development, as of the end of the second quarter of 2019, had reached 41,801 megawatts, a 10% increase year-over-year, according to AWEA’s “US Wind Industry Second Quarter 2019 Market Report.” According to AWEA, project developers signed 1,962 megawatts of power purchase agreements (PPAs) during the second quarter of 2019, contributing to a total of 4,799 megawatts for the year.
Some of this growth is likely driven by the U.S. production tax credit (PTC), a federal subsidy that provides a per-kilowatthour tax credit for the first 10 years of a wind farm’s operation. The current PTC was passed in 2016 and provided a 2.3 cents per kilowatthour credit. The PTC credit decreased incrementally each year until its expiration at the end of 2019, when it was extended by one year and provides a tax credit of 1.5 cents per kilowatthour.
As for offshore wind in the U.S., there was a total potential offshore wind pipeline of more than 25,000 megawatts spanning 10 states off the East and Great Lakes coasts at the end of 2018.
The global wind market is growing quickly, expanding 9.5% in 2018. According to AWEA, there are now 591 gigawatts of wind farms generating electricity worldwide.
The size of wind turbines continues to increase as well. Twenty or more years ago, when the first large-scale, commercial wind-generated power came on line, wind farms comprised turbines rated at 1 megawatt or less, with glass fiber-reinforced blades that typically ranged from 10-15 meters long. Today, offshore, 6-9-megawatt turbines with blades 65-80 meters long are the norm.
In September 2018, MHI Vestas announced that its V164 turbine platform had achieved a power rating of 10 megawatts, making it the first commercially available double-digit wind turbine. While 10-megawatt turbines won’t be installed until 2021, an 8.8-megawatt version of the V164 was deployed in Vattenfall’s (London, U.K.) European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) in Scotland’s Aberdeen Bay in April 2018. The turbine has a tip height of 191 meters and each blade is 80 meters long.
Source | Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy
In early 2019, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE, Zamudio, Spain) launched the SG 10.0-193 DD, the company’s first 10+ megawatt offshore wind turbine. It features 94-meter-long blades — each the same length as one soccer field — providing a swept area of 29,300 square meters. The annual energy production of one SG 10.0-193 DD is said to be sufficient to supply about 10,000 European households with electricity. In addition, Siemens Gamesa is constructing the world’s largest wind turbine blade test stand in Aalborg, Denmark. The site will be capable of performing full-scale tests on the next generations of SGRE rotor blades and is expected to be fully operational before the end of 2019. The first tests will reportedly be on the 94-meter-long blades for the SG 10.0-193 DD offshore wind turbine.
Siemens Gamesa has begun construction of the world’s largest wind turbine blade test stand in Aalborg, Denmark. Source | Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy
Source | GE Renewable Energ
The largest and most powerful wind turbine in development is the Haliade-X, which is being developed by GE Renewable Energy (Paris, France). Towering 260 meters over the sea (more than five times the height of the iconic Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France) the Haliade-X 12 MW carries a 220-meter-diameter rotor. Designed and manufactured by LM Wind Power, the 107-meter-long blades will be the longest offshore blades to date and will be longer than the size of a soccer field. GE revealed the first nacelle for the Haliade-X 12-megawatt offshore wind turbine in July 2019, at its production site in Saint-Nazaire, France. GE says this is a step towards launching the Haliade-X to the market in 2021.
Carbon fiber earns its place in the return on investment equation. As blades length continues to increase to improve wind energy harvest, carbon fiber reinforcement in spar caps has become an efficient way to reduce overall weight to length and increase blade stiffness to prevent tower strikes in the event of sudden wind gusts. Source | Epsilon Composites
As wind turbines get larger and blade lengths continue to increase, carbon fiber reinforcement in spar caps — incorporated as the reinforcing member of wind turbine rotor blades — has become an efficient way to reduce overall weight and increase blade stiffness to prevent tower strikes in the event of sudden wind gusts. According to Philip Schell, executive VP, carbon fiber, Zoltek Corp. (St. Louis, Mo., U.S.), roughly 25% of wind turbines are now manufactured with carbon fiber spar caps. Although that figure is trending upward, it also underscores that most turbines are still built entirely from glass fiber composites. He adds that when all cost/performance trade-offs are considered, a solid case can be made for substituting carbon fiber for glass fiber in the manufacture of spar caps for turbine blades 55 meters long and longer.
In June 2019, SAERTEX (Saerbeck, Germany) announced its infusion-optimized unidirectional, 618-gsm, non-crimp carbon fiber fabric was used to produce a prototype 87.5-meter, 800-millimeter carbon fiber spar cap made using vacuum infusion technology. According to SAERTEX, the spar cap, completed in April by a wind turbine blade manufacturer in China and was designed by WINDnovation Engineering Solutions (Berlin, Germany), is the longest ever produced.
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