Wind Turbine Industry Beefs up its Supply Base

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The wind turbine industry appears to be gearing up for increased activity in the US, perhaps as a result of the stimulus package or because pundits are calling for an increase in the price of oil. But no matter, this Detroit Free Press article specifically says that some of the biggest wind turbine producers want to build out their US supply chains.   The big producers, Vestas, Nordex AG and Siemens AG all seek to build supply chains to help support investments in assembly facilities or provide parts to their Tier 1 suppliers. In addition to expanding the supply base, some manufacturers are going the route of contract manufacturing by identifying partners to produce for the local market as this article explains.

Some of the parts used to make wind turbines and components containing metal include the turbine which includes a series of parts such as rotor blades, the hub, a drive-train, gearbox, generator, control system, the tower, nacelles (see below), yaw drive and brake. Nacelles look like a large fabricated structure that houses critical components such as the gearbox, rotor shaft and brake assembly. See a picture of one here:

Controller cabinets, typically made of steel, house a range of components including electronic switching equipment and controls, the cooling circuit, power bridges, circuit equipment etc.   These cabinets often contain a range of metals from steel sheet to stainless and aluminum. In terms of metal usage, by far and away the wind turbine industry relies on steel but some aluminum can be found in the frame along with copper in the generator and nacelles. The generator requires magnets too.

This week we will be publishing our first white paper on specific cost reductions strategies for the energy industry. The paper will examine the use of metals in MCP (Major Capital Projects) for the oil and gas and petrochemical industries.

–Lisa Reisman

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