Wind resource presents biggest risk to industry

WORLDWIDE: Insurance underwriter GCube has found wind resources pose the largest threat to an onshore wind project's profitability, surpassing mechanical breakdown.

GCube said operations and maintenance will become increasingly important (pic: Germanischer Lloyd)

In its latest report, Risky Business: Assessing Future Threats in Onshore Wind Development, Financing and Operations, GCube said low-wind speeds, and inaccurate forecasting is forcing investors to put revenue protection mechanisms in place, such as Weather Risk Transfers, all of which drives project profitability down.

"These products will be an essential factor in accounting for an estimated $56 billion shortfall in total asset values across the globe," GCube said.

Mechanical and electrical breakdown is now the second biggest potential risk to profitability, according to GCube's study.

Bigger and more technically advanced turbines, plus the move of a large number of machines in to their post-warranty period in Europe and the US, pose major risks.

"Analysing the past five years of onshore wind mechanical breakdown claims, GCube has identified that the industry currently experiences 3,800 incidents of blade failure on average each year, each costing up to $1 million to resolve, 1,200 incidents of gearbox failure, each costing between $200,000 and $300,000, and approximately 50 turbine fires, with an average claims cost of $4.5 million," the firm said.

GCube ranked political risk third; project developments in remote regions fourth; and extreme weather and natural catastrophes fifth in its ranking of project threats.