“The current economic situation is slowly affecting the wind energy industry,” says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Gouri Nambudripad. “We are going to see a slowing down of the double-digit growth rates that were witnessed in the past few years. Some market players are reducing their aggressive production and development targets and this is going to trickle down the supply chain”.

This situation could have positive effects, however, like a reduction in turbine prices and the reduction of delivery times of components leading to a more balanced demand-supply situation.
In the last three or four years, the demand for components has been growing tremendously. To secure supplies of critical components such as gearboxes and bearings, wind turbine producers have been resorting to various strategies such as vertical integration and signing long-term contracts with suppliers and sub-suppliers.

Calmer times ahead

With the current financial situation, however, the strategies of the component suppliers as well as those of turbine manufacturers will be different, considering a slowing down of demand of turbines and thereby the components for those wind turbines, the analyst writes.
The new reality will foster a fiercer competition between the suppliers turning into a growth opportunity for those who are capable of reducing their costs and prices faster. Other factors contributing to the fall in prices include falling prices for raw materials and construction services.
The sharp decrease in raw materials prices such as steel and copper will inevitably induce the decrease in equipment prices. For example, steel prices reached a record high in June-September 2008 for then to crush down to December 2007 levels in less than three months. Not only are the prices affected but also the delivery times as steel mills are starving for new orders and the lead times on new orders have reduced dramatically.
The decrease in raw materials and component costs coupled with the on-going government support extended to green energy industry is likely to sustain the demand for wind turbines but it is paramount for the industry to maximise the performance of the existing assets and address the remaining technical issues. In doing so, the wind industry is likely to emerge stronger and fitter when the crisis is over.