Last week the reference wind fair in Europe was held in Bilbao: WindEurope 2019. As usual, there was time for everything: product news, interesting talks, VIP visits, some disappointment … and all that and much more we will review in the following top10 (includes review of my previous bets)
- A song of volume and cost: this could be my summary (and little tribute to GOT) after the fair. The rhythm of launching new products that are being imposed by the big ones (Vestas and SGRE) is reducing the period of commercial life of the products which forces large volumes to overcome the learning curve quickly and thus be profitable. This combined with modularization, economies of scale and cost-out by volume makes it increasingly difficult for medium sized manufacturers to compete with the big ones. We will see how the market evolves but the first victim seems to be Senvion.
- SG5.8 MW: As smart analysts foresaw, there was a new product launch. Specifically, the new 5.8 MW platform comes with 155m and 170m rotors and basically meets the expectations: to cover the 5.X segment and be ahead of Vestas in the power/rotor race. We will see future movements because I am sure that Vestas keeps an ace in the sleeve in the form of a class III rotor of more than 170m. Betting game review: Landed
- Logistic frontiers: towers. Another of the protagonists of the fair were the logistical solutions to overcome the challenges that very high towers are bringing to the market. Here we highlight among others the solutions of:
- Nabralift: Nabrawind solution with mounted prototype that is arousing a lot of interest
- Freyssiwind: its Eolift solution for the assembly of concrete towers has already been tested in a commercial park in Brazil.
- HWS: innovative concept that mixes civil engineering systems with ad-hoc developments. They are in the design phase with a prototype planned for 2020.
- Logistic frontiers: blades. It is very significant that during one of the fair events one of the wind technology gurus Henrik Stiesdal was asked what had impressed him most in his career. And he, who has starred in some of the most memorable technical achievements in the sector, replied that what impressed him most was “how logistics was able, time after time, to develop tools so as not to limit product growth, especially of the blades“. With 170m onshore rotors it is clear that no matter how creative the logistics is, there will be limitations in certain locations and markets. However, this was one of my surprises at the fair: apart from Nabrawind with its modular solution nabrajoint, little noise made other solutions. Neither the OEMs nor the large blade manufacturers highlighted these solutions although I suspect that they all work on modular solutions, which although not as a default solution, can be offered as an option. Betting game review: Missed
- Senvion: many were the rumors before the fair due to the financial turbulence of the manufacturer and during the fair these rumors only multiplied. With the action on the floor and without a clear restructuring plan, the outlook is not very promising for the manufacturer. We will see next steps but time is against Senvion: every day that passes its situation deteriorates and the market has more and more doubts.
- Storage: another “missed” for my bet record. I was surprised and concerned to find that the storage sector has opted entirely for Solar PV as a generation technology. No “pure player” storage company was present at the fair and the manufacturers did not highlight it on their stands either. However, there were exceptions:
- KK-windsolutions: Interesting storage solution inside the tower to reduce fluctuations.
- Enercon: markets its own ESS including inverter, transformer and switchgear. It is not very innovative as SGRE has been marketing bi-directional storage inverters successfully for some time through its subsidiary Gamesa Electric.
- Lockheed Martin energy: a pleasant surprise because I didn’t know it. It offers storage systems including flow batteries.
- Hydrogenics: Interesting Canadian company that focuses on Hydrogen as a form of storage. I promise to give my vision about hydrogen in some post in the future, but I anticipate that I am not a great enthusiast.
Betting game review: Missed
- Enercon: I was curious to see Enercon’s booth after the purchase of Lagerway and was not disappointed. Competitive products and comparable with those of the competition, commercials that talk about cost, class III, permanent magnets … in short, bad news for the faithful to the Enercon of all life but good news for the sector because I think we have a very interesting future competitor. Betting game review: Landed
- Digitization: It’s been one of the magical concepts of this fair, but my personal impression is that I don’t see the breakthrough It should. With auction prices for land and solar+storage threatening to make them a reality, it seems to me essential to reinvent oneself as a sector and put oneself at the head of the much-handled “value-added services”. And despite the expectations raised by GE and Siemens a few years ago, we still see many companies focused on operating data (Scada) and few on treating the turbine as a “digital asset” from development to decommissioning. Perhaps the one who is doing the most interesting things is Sentient Science. I know the manufacturers are working hard in this field so I’m sure we’ll see some very interesting results soon. Betting game review: Missed
- Iberdola Virtual experience: highly recommended if you want to feel the enormity of offshore projects. Specifically, this is in Wikinger with Adwen turbines of 5MW-135. I can’t wait for seeing something similar with 8 MW machines and 170m rotor. Betting game review: Landed.
- Organization: an “A+” for the organization. There are many fairs that I have visited in recent years and I do not remember an event better organized than this. And not only because of the magnificent new BEC and its accesses (whoever has known Husum will appreciate it) but above all because of the level of involvement of the institutions at all levels: national (the King and the minister at the inauguration), regional (Basque government, energy cluster, Basque companies stand) and local. Also worth mentioning is the effort of the host companies to give a special touch to the event. The pity is that the foreign attendance does not seem to be at the same level.
In short, a very interesting fair that confirms that the sector is at a key moment: reinventing itself from maturity so as not to die in the cost wars.