Opinion: Envision’s turbine underlines threat to western OEMs' market share outside Europe

Envision Energy unveiling its 10MW turbine is a timely reminder of the pace of change among Chinese turbine firms – and the threat to western OEMs’ market share.

Western OEMs are decelerating new product launches just as Chinese turbine firms increase them, writes Shashi Barla
Western OEMs are decelerating new product launches just as Chinese turbine firms increase them, writes Shashi Barla

After the Chinese onshore wind Feed-In-tariff (FiT) phase-out by the end of 2020, Chinese OEMs started on a frenetic pace of new technology introduction to compete in the grid parity era.

Turbine OEMs historically leveraged longer rotors to lower the costs, but now that alone is insufficient. So, the turbine OEMs, in tandem with the component suppliers, focus on longer rotors, larger-rated generators, and taller towers.

Envision’s answer to this segment is to introduce two wind turbine models, EN-210/8.35MW and EN-220/10.0MW targeting the high to medium wind speed regimes.

Envision secured 20GW of orders in 2022 (Including a whopping 6.5GW of international orders), reaching the top spot. The company focuses on turbine technology innovation besides harnessing digital technologies and artificial intelligence to garner market share.

Battlefield segment

The next battlefield segment for Chinese OEMs will be 7-10MW ratings with 200-230m rotor diameters, primarily targeting the high-medium wind provinces like Inner Mongolia, Gansu, and Xinjiang.

Companies like Mingyang, Windey, SANY, and CRRC have launched 7-10MW onshore turbine platforms in the past month and more companies will launch new platforms with similar configurations.

Windey started series manufacturing of its latest 9MW onshore turbines early in January this year after securing 2+GW orders for its 8-9MW onshore platform.

Chinese OEMs announcements come at a juncture when western turbine OEMs are decelerating New Product Introductions (NPIs) while Chinese firms accelerate them.

Chinese OEMs usually showcase their latest wind turbine technologies at the China Wind Power conference. As the 2022 edition was cancelled, we anticipate a slew of announcements in the 7-10MW onshore segment over the next few weeks.

Now read: Envision Energy unveils 10MW onshore wind turbine – Chinese media

Highest NPIs ever

In the past two years, Chinese OEMs launched more than 250 onshore turbine models, the highest-ever NPIs in this industry.

Chinese market installation activity is likely to double in 2023 (75GW) compared to 2022 (37GW) and this surge in demand to some extent justifies the accelerated NPI pace.

These Chinese next-generation technologies pose a threat to western OEMs' market share in regions like Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Central and South Asia.

Shashi Barla is head of renewables research at the Brinckmann Group

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