US wind industry ‘lean and mean’

09/19/2014 14:450 commentsViews: 3

US turbine component manufacturers maintain the lowest costs on blades and have the most efficient manufacturing processes on towers, blades and generators in the world, a study claims.


WindmillsThe Global Wind Network research for the Department of Energy scrutinised the US sector’s ability to compete in the global marketplace and its readiness to supply the next generation of wind turbines.

Through its “snapshot” comparison of top global competitors, the study’s authors identified potential cost cutting measures including a focus on product and process design for lean serial production and investing in facilities able to produce large parts for marine transport to offshore wind farms.

While China is currently the lowest-cost manufacturer in three out of four turbine product categories, the study found that the US is a leader in manufacturing efficiency with the lowest number of total man hours, the highest value added to non-value added ratio and the highest rate of return.

It takes 1175 hours to construct a turbine tower in the US, for example, compared with 1216 in Germany and 2641 in China.

The Global Wind Network also studied readiness to supply 3MW and 5MW land-based and offshore wind turbines and found the US sector has “existing capabilities to manufacture key components” including towers, blades, generators, gearboxes, composite housings and fabricated support bases.

The study stressed that investment in facilities and equipment, particularly for tower and blade manufacturers, will be crucial for supporting the growth of 3 MW and larger turbine manufacturing and the emerging need for an offshore wind supply chain.



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