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Wind Topic Analysis

Offshore wind IRP: brighter outlook for turbine components

March 16, 2022 Wind InfoLink

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Changes in key development items for turbine components

The finalized version released in December 2021 removed variable pitch control system from key development items to become a bonus item. Developers are no longer required a given percentage of local content; bonus point will be allocated as long as the percentage of local content exceeds the intended capacity. Fastener, originally under the cabin assembly and tower category, becomes an independent item for one bons point. 

IRP wind turbine components

The variable pitch control system is a generator that adjusts the pitch angle of wind turbines either through electrical or hydraulic variable-pitch mechanism. When wind speed is lower than the rated wind speed, the system decreases pitch angle, maximizing the efficiency of wind energy utilization. When wind speed is higher than the rated wind speed, the system increases pitch angle, reducing the efficiency of wind energy utilization, keeping power output around the rated level. Manufacturers of this system must be equipped with excellent hardware-software integrating ability, so as to harvest the most wind energy.   

The finalized IRP removes variable pitch control system from key development items. Still, the “Industry Energy Project Program” the Bureau of Energy initiated in July 2021 will allocate at least NT$ 50 million for Jufan Industrial Co. Ltd. to develop the Class 1T 10 MW offshore wind turbine hydraulic variable-pitch system. Compared with its electrical counterpart, the hydraulic variable-pitch system has simpler, firmer structure, can share oil resources with yaw systems, braking systems, and buffer shocks for wind turbines. However, it is more difficult to maintain, whilst potential oil leakage can lead to fire accidents. 

Jufan Industrial expects to integrate the system with MHI Vestas and Siemens Gamesa turbines. During a supply chain forum held in January, Siemens Gamesa publicly included Jufan into its local supply chain. This indicates confidence both the government and system manufacturers have in Taiwan, even though the technology still sees some barriers and is not an overnight job. 

Duopoly

Wind farms in Taiwan deploy turbines from MHI Vestas, Siemens Gamesa, and Hitachi. Hitachi has stopped manufacturing turbines since 2019, remaining involved in turbine maintenance service, whilst switching focus to the electricity grid market. This leaves MHI Vestas and Siemens Gamesa to be the only two system manufacturers competing during Phase 3. 

The chart above lists local supply chain partners of MHI Vestas and Siemens Gamesa. Both two selected nacelle assembly (foreign companies set up plants in Taiwan), tower, transformer, distribution board, nose cone and nacelle cover, cable, hub casting and PCS and UPS (foreign companies set up plants in Taiwan), fastener, blade resin, and carbon fibers. Except carbon fibers, all of these are key development items and will earn the two manufacturers eleven points for industrial relevance.  

Wind turbine component point

The two developers choose some different items. 

MHI Vestas chooses Swancor’s adhesives (one point), Tienli’s blades (one point), and TECO’s generators (five points). Local sourcing for blades and generators is more difficult. Tienli is an affiliate of REDBlades. Despite its experience in manufacturing blades for onshore wind turbines, the blades of this 9.5 MW turbine are 85m in length, Tienli still needs technology transfer and verification from MHI Vestas. Yet, as blade is a key development item and a purchase agreement has been signed, the cooperation between the two are pretty much settled. TECO, on the other hand, is in charge of generators, another core component of offshore wind turbines. TECO has experiences in building onshore wind turbines. But to make it into the supply chain, the company must manufacture a prototype for verification. MHI Vestas recognizes TECO’s potentials, but collaboration between the two is still uncertain, as generator is only a bonus item and that the two companies only signed a cooperation framework agreement. The localization of all three items above will earn MHI Vestas seven points for industrial relevance. 

Siemens Gamesa chooses Jufan’s variable pitch control system (one point) and TECO’s yaw system (one point). A yaw system uses anemometers and wind vanes to monitor the wind and has a processor that sends signals for orientation and stop sending after rotating the rotor into the wind. Yaw systems play a pivotal role in capturing wind and avoiding damaging turbines when the wind speed is too fast. TECO has 2 MW of onshore wind turbine manufacturing experience, helping the company develop yaw systems. The localization of variable pitch control system and yaw system are rather difficult, for both the two core subsystems in wind turbines are related to hardware-software integration. 

Conclusion

Generally, developers choosing MHI Vestas is expected to receive 18 points for industrial relevance, and Siemens Gamesa 13 points. However, Siemens Gamesa’s local suppliers for key development item are yet to be revealed, whilst MHI Vestas’ five-point-worth localization of generators is still up in the air. Overall, developers will put into consideration the capacity of local supply chain, next-gen wind turbines the two will deploy, and their experiences in integrating floating wind foundation. 

InfoLink sees system makers seizing the initiative for the localization of wind turbine components. Developers can hardly and are not intended to require turbine manufacturers to localize or customize wind turbines for them. Firstly, Taiwanese offshore wind market is a duopoly market where developers are at a disadvantage. Secondly, once a developer talks system manufacturers into adding items, other developers can easily get a free ride. Thanks to Taiwan’s leading position in Asian offshore wind industry and the government’s strong regulations, both MHI Vestas and Siemens Gamesa set up facilities at Taichung Port, and thus have reason to source locally to reduce logistic costs. Doubled with key development item requirements, the localization of wind turbines components can make some headways. 
 

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