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Global wind farm foundations market to grow 26% by 2022

shutterstock 339019418 onshore wind farm

The worldwide wind farm foundation market had a value of US$5.7bn (£4.3bn) in 2017, according to a new report from data and analytics business Global Data.

The Wind Turbine Foundations, Update 2018 - Global Market Size, Competitive Landscape, Key Country Analysis, and Forecast to 2022 report expects the market to grow by 26% to reach US$7.2bn (£5.49bn) by 2022.

Offshore foundations are expected to represent the larger part of the market at US$4.16bn (£3.17bn) with onshore work representing US$3.05bn (£2.32bn).

The report also reviewed the type of foundations used and showed that most wind farm projects are installed with monopile, jacket, and tripod-based foundations. However, following successful prototyping of floating foundations by Hywind and Windfloat, it is expected that this type of foundation will become more common by 2022.

“The global wind power market witnessed significant growth from 2012 to 2017, with cumulative wind power installed capacity increasing from 284GW in 2012 to 546GW in 2017,” said Global Data senior analyst Subha Krishnan. “A great deal of potential exists for offshore wind installations. It is estimated that the offshore wind has the potential to meet seven times the energy demand of Europe and four times that of the US.

“Innovative technologies, offshore wind policy support in some countries, national targets, growing investor confidence, and introduction and deployment of large-sized turbines for cost reduction are some of the drivers for offshore wind development globally.”

Global Data’s report also found that China was the top country in the global market with respect to annual wind installed capacity in 2017. It was followed by the US, Germany, UK, and India. China topped the ranking as it is currently the home to more than one-third of the world’s wind power cumulative capacity, recording 188GW at the end of 2017. The country added exceptionally large wind power capacity of over 125GW during the period from 2012 to 2017. It is expected to add another 92GW during the forecast period between 2018 and 2022 with an annual installation of nearly 18.4GW.

Krishnan added: “China is the largest manufacturing hub for wind turbines and its components. Manufacturing capacity coupled with abundance of high wind speed sites mean it is only natural for China to become a world leader in terms of installed capacity. The US and Germany have had large capacities since the early 2000s and both have excelled in terms of wind power technology and achieving better efficiencies. It was only in 2009 and 2010 that China overtook Germany and the US in terms of installed capacity.”

Currently in China, high-rise pile caps and monopiles are the most popular foundation choice, but a variety of foundations, including jackets, multi-piles, gravity base, and suction bucket foundations have also been installed with most foundations having been deployed in intertidal zones. While the intertidal zone has provided a useful testing ground for different foundation types, there is a clear need to test more foundations offshore in order to identify which are most appropriate for Chinese waters. Developers are still unsure which foundations to use, with the majority of identified sites yet to announce which foundations they will use, particularly those looking to develop offshore projects. Foundation design in China is conducted by a handful of domestic design institutes active in the industry, which will then sub-contract the responsibility for the fabrication and installation of the foundation.

“There are a number of foundation designs available for offshore wind farms and these have been demonstrated in China. The choice of offshore foundation is determined by a series of factors such as seabed conditions, water depth, foundation cost, ease of installation, and size of wind turbine,” said Krishnan.

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