All eyes were on Germany last month as businesses from across the wind energy supply chain gathered for the world’s biggest wind industry event in Hamburg.
The show saw over 1,400 exhibitors and 35,000 visitors attending from over 100 countries. Our stand was a collaboration between ONYX InSight and Castrol and we are already looking forward to exhibiting alongside Castrol again in 2020.
Each day of the conference followed a key theme currently prevalent in the wind energy market, including: electrification and sector coupling; digitalisation and new technologies; wind in a merchant environment; and new markets and new frontiers.
These were explored in a series of seminars, presentations and informal discussions throughout the course of the week. As ever, some great discussion and ideas came out of the event – here’s a rundown of some of the key trends that emerged in our discussions with the industry:
A move from products and services to platforms and solutions
It was clear from speaking with wind farm owners, operators and OEMs that we are seeing a shift in the language being used to discuss operations and maintenance offerings – away from ‘products’ and ‘services’ and towards ‘platforms’ and ‘solutions’. Whilst this implies a higher level of offering in terms of quality or advancements in technology, in reality significant variation between predictive maintenance platforms will remain, and owners and operators will need to embrace solutions that offer as comprehensive an overview of asset health as possible.
An increase in pitch bearing incidents
It is evident that pitch bearing failures are becoming increasingly common. Liebherr, supplier of mobile cranes, crawler cranes and heavy-duty offshore cranes for the assembly of wind turbines, highlighted the challenges this will raise in the Chinese market, in particular, where approximately 50% of bearings will require replacement in the next few years.
It is predicted that pitch bearing OEMs are unlikely to start developing aftermarket solutions, however, as their interest is in selling new bearings.
Component cost reductions
Another key trend emerging at the conference was that the industry can expect to see significant cost reductions from OEMs. As more and more turbine components are manufactured, the costs will naturally fall. However, while cost reduction are often achieved by reducing the specifications and features of components – in turn lowering the cost of projects – the industry will need to guard against the introduction of issues of reliability as a result.