The German wind energy association Bundesverband WindEnergie (BWE) released its latest annual 2009 wind turbine owner service satisfaction survey.
The top spot was retained by Enercon topped the list with a 2.03 total score qualifying it as "Good". Simultaneously, only 1.3% of the Enercon owners/operators said to be willing of making a switch to an independent service provider, with competitors scoring between 20.0% and 34.9%.
How the survey was done
The 2009 survey involved 2,047 questionnaires sent to German wind farm & wind turbine owners/operators registered with the BWE. These firms returned 897 completed forms (47%) involving statistics on 3,011 turbines of different make & type and age. BWE's "Survey evaluation scale" itself is split into five subcategories: "Very Good" (0 to 1.5) to "Inadequate" (4.51 - 5.50).
The surveys evaluate and compare individual performances of both supplier in-house independent service providers. Functionally each annual survey is subdivided into three specific areas and each with an identical 33.3% weighing factor: periodic inspections, unscheduled repairs and extraordinary services. A further subdivision is made in turbines still under warranty, those older than 6 years and others younger than 6 years.
One often-quoted major contributing factor for Enercon's high service satisfaction scores in BWE surveys is its PartnerKonzept (EPK). This full service contract guarantees minimal 97% availability for a twelve-year contract period - with possible extension, and covers all costs for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. In return the owner/operator pays Enercon a yield-based remuneration, on average claimed in the 1.2 €ct/kWh range. According to company information, over 85 % of the international customers and 90% of domestic customers sign an EPK agreement.
Long-term full service contracts appear to be a wind industry trend. GE for example announced a "total service solution for wind turbines" at EWEC 2010. This "full service agreement" (FSA) as a package includes all planned maintenance activities, such as remote monitoring and troubleshooting, routine services, preventative maintenance, on-site support and parts support; as well as unplanned maintenance such as uptower inspection and repair, condition monitoring and turbine performance and life extension solutions. The FSA is being introduced on all new GE 2.5xl wind turbines in Europe with plans to extend it globally on all turbine models.
The other six wind turbine suppliers in the survey all scored "Satisfactory". This list includes Fuhrländer (score 2.71), GE Wind (3.03), REpower (3.06), Vestas (3.16), Siemens (3.25), and Nordex (3.34).
What is remarkable is that 34.9% of Siemens turbine owners/operators expressed a willingness to switch to a different provider. Comparatively, Fuhrländer scores 20.0% but with only 9 turbines), Nordex (29.0%), REpower 29.6%), Vestas (30.7%), and GE Wind (31%). However, compared to BWE's 2008 survey GE, Nordex and Siemens all have improved their service satisfaction performance score.
Key factors blamed for inadequate service performance include: rapid market growth, miscommunication, technician unfamiliarity with certain turbine models, inadequate spare parts availability, logistical issues, and difficulties to train sufficient service technicians. The latter bottleneck requires a continuous expansion of training facilities in main wind markets like Germany, whereas suitable candidates often prove difficult to find.
Another issue besides offering overall quality and workmanship is the price-performance ratio of the wind turbine upkeep services provided. These are both areas where OEM's increasingly have to compete with independent service providers.
Independent service providers
The 2009 survey results clearly indicate that independent service providers do rather well. Speedwind, one out of eleven providers participating in the survey scored "Very good" (1.32). Seven all scored "Good" and the remaining three "Satisfactory". But it should be noted that for six of these independent providers less than ten completed survey forms were handed in, which limits their comparative statistical relevance.