Thousands of wind turbines have been built in the U.S. over the last few years, which means the after-market for equipment maintenance, replacement, and repair is about 12 to 18 months from taking off, says Shane Mullins, Industrial Info Resources’ VP in Booth 9954.
“More wind capacity has been built in the U.S. over the last three years than in the previous 20 years combined,” he adds. “Starting in 2011 and accelerating in 2012 through 2014, the warranties on those turbines will start expiring. To reduce costs, windfarm operators must switch from reactive to predictive maintenance at a time when many OEMs will be playing catch-up, allowing for new equipment and service market entries.” One reason attendance has grown dramatically at the annual Windpower conference and exhibit is that hundreds of firms are entering the wind power after-market. “It will be a multi-billion-dollar business,” says Mullins.
Last year, nearly 10,000 MW of new wind capacity came online in the U.S., bringing the country’s total wind-power-generating capacity to about 35,000 MW, he says. However, new construction starts for wind since the beginning of last year have been cut in half. Many projects have been delayed or cancelled, and those that have moved forward have been scaled back and divided into phases.
“We still have a lack of financing, demand for electricity is still low, and natural gas prices remain low, which affects your sales pitch to investors and makes it more difficult to secure a PPA (power purchase agreement),” says Mullins. “Despite that, the lifeline provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has allowed projects to move forward, with 2010 starting off strong and construction beginning on about 1,500 MW of new windfarms through the end of April.” Overall, Mullins expects construction to start on about 6,000 MW of new wind capacity in the U.S. this year, which will carry a total investment value of about $10 billion.
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