Medium-speed gearbox demand set to rise

Latest figures from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) predict a noticeable increase in demand for medium-speed gearboxes in the early part of the 2020s.

The data from GWEC's Market Intelligence platform shows the market share of medium-speed gearboxes increased from 1% in 2015 to 3.7% in 2018. GWEC believes this trend will continue, reaching a 10% share by 2023.

Overall gearbox demand is set to peak in 2020, GWEC's figures suggested, at 59.1GW worth of capacity using the technology. Mirroring total turbine demand, it is expected then to fall around 42GW in the early part of the next decade.

Gearboxed turbines are also expected to be the core technology choice over the short term, GWEC said. In 2018, the conventional geared turbine made up 73% of the overall market share.

However, direct-drive turbines are expected to increase in the offshore wind sector, reaching 63% market share by 2023.

As with the rest of the market, the gearbox industry has witnessed a large amount of consolidation in recent years. GWEC said the total number of gearbox suppliers has fallen from around 50 in 2010 to less than 20 companies today.

That consolidation is set to continue, GWEC said, as much of the market is dominated by just three companies.

Chinese manufacturer NGC, and Europe-based suppliers ZF and Winergy together make up nearly three quarters of the gearbox manufacturing capacity in the world.

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