Wind Turbine Supply Will Catch
Up with Demand - Panel
Nov 6, 2007 - Wind Energy Weekly
Global supply and demand for wind turbines and related
components should begin to balance out in 2009 and
into 2010, although the industry value chain is
still significantly hindered by policy uncertainty,
said panelists in a session that tackled supply
chain issues at the AWEA 2007 Wind Energy Fall Symposium.
Kristopher Wiljanen of Emerging Energy Research
identified four phases in the process by which supply
will catch up with demand within the U.S. market,
with the industry currently in approximately the
second phase. The first of the stages, increased
U.S. turbine assembly and blade production, he noted,
is already well under way. Next to come on the continuum
is increased component supply, followed by more
choices becoming available (both technology and
other offerings such as contract terms). The last
phase, he said, will be increased cost competition.
The ramp-up time for components takes a couple
of years, said Wiljanen.
Progress on the first phase is significant, he
noted; in addition to General Electric and Mitsubishi,
both of which had a presence in the U.S. in 2004,
just three years later, Gamesa, Siemens, Clipper
Windpower, Acciona, Vestas, and DeWind, all are
operating in the U.S.
But the supply chain nevertheless is confronted
with great challenges, particularly in the policy
arena. Question marks surrounding possible passage
of a renewable electricity standard, along with
the repeated short-term extensions of the production
tax credit (PTC) create a tremendous amount of uncertainty
in the marketplace, noted Parthiv Amin, president
of Winergy Drive Systems Corp. Regarding passage
of an RES and long-term PTC, Amin said, I would
urge everyone in this room to get involved in it.
David Ferebee, Lonestar Transportation Co., Inc.s
vice president of sales, and Peter Greve Jensen,
who handles supply chain logistics for BaltShip,
offered a transportation perspective for the session.
I think [transportation] is one of the biggest
issues facing the industry today and probably one
of the least understood, said Ferebee. All components
must move by truck at some point, he noted. Turbines
and components, meanwhile, keep getting bigger,
demanding more and more of transportation companies,
which must contend with ever-changing regulations
from dozens of different states, all the while trying
to devise the means to carry equipment that keeps
increasing in size.