Unplanned Repairs Present Breakbulk Opportunity

US$8.5 Billion Market for Unplanned Turbine Repairs

Unplanned repairs caused by component failures in wind turbines could create a market of up to US$8.5 billion, driving opportunities for breakbulk operators able to transport replacement parts, according to research firm Wood Mackenzie.

"Spare parts and associated logistics comprise approximately 50 percent of the direct costs associated with unplanned repairs. Capital components alone – gearboxes, generators and blade – can cost up to $10,000 per turbine per year in replacements,” said Daniel Liu, principal analyst at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables.

Citing a fall in global tender prices, the firm notes a “sharpened focus” on operational expenditures for wind power plants as asset owners search for new solutions to reduce costs.

Digital Delay Provides Logistics Gap

While remote monitoring and diagnostics tools are predicted to help identify failures in advance, reducing the need for unplanned transport, the need for breakbulk operatros that can respond in a timely manner to breakages is currently seen as of prime importance.

As technology matures, Wood Mackenzie predicts that breakbulk logistics groups will increasingly be part of a process that involve “end-to-end optimisation” via data analytics and machine learning but notes that many platforms are not yet commercially deployed, highlighting the imporatnace of responsive project cargo capability.
“For all the touted benefits offered by digital technology, adoption rates by asset owners are mixed … Some leading self-performing asset owners prefer instead to rely on their operational experience and heavy personnel engagement to manage assets, with some asset owners in the North America shunning digital technology altogether,” Liu comments.

O&M Costs to Reach US$15 Billion

Total operations and maintenance costs for global onshore wind power is expected to reach nearly US$15 billion in 2019 and as many first generation wind farms are not yet at end-of-life, costs are only forecast to increase.
“In quite a few cases, the basic economics do not always stack up for digital solutions. Deployment costs for retrofitting a complete ecosystem to existing fleets and operations ranges into the hundreds of thousands of dollars per site,” Liu adds, noting that in the interim asset owners are spending as much as US$30,000 per turbine per year on unplanned failures.
Wood Mackenzie highlights the possibility of CMS, drone inspections, and performance monitoring technology redcing this figure in coming years but notes that “the cost vs. benefit equation” is one of the key barriers to deployment for more sophisticated technologies – with some having a payback period up to 7 years or longer.