The value chain in the wind power sector is consolidated and well-structured internationally after several decades of development. Like any value chain, it evolves and adapts to the changes that take place in production, technology and the market itself. As a result, the offshore wind energy market is undergoing major changes at present.
Among the key operations that leading sector companies keep to themselves are development, project design, the manufacture of wind turbines and the sale and distribution of the energy generated. The core operations vary depending on the commercial orientation of each company; they may either focus on project development and the generation and sale of power or on the production of wind turbines.
Onshore wind farms are part of a mature sector based on standard technology that is easily replicable by companies all over the world. Cost control is the main factor for competitiveness. The activity is concentrated in a few manufacturers and companies, with the aim of taking advantage of economies of scale, which largely benefits suppliers from lower-cost countries.
As for offshore wind farms, the technology is undergoing ongoing development, with the experimental phase being key. The leading wind turbine manufacturers work with a limited number of specialised suppliers with a view to exploring new and better energy solutions.
The technological progress that will be achieved in the short term will be linked to the use of wind turbines in very hostile environments and through the reduction of manufacturing and O&M costs. In this respect, the technological trends are oriented towards:
- Speeding up the technological development of offshore wind energy.
- The development of floating foundations at sea.
- The development of electrical infrastructure, cabling and grid connection of offshore wind power.
- An evolution towards longer blades and higher turbine towers
- Lighter and more powerful electricity generators.
- More reliable gearboxes that have a longer working life.