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Lack of testing standards a problem for wind energy

14 Nov 2011 09:10 Viewed2869

Lack of testing standards a problem for wind energy

A key challenge for vendors in the wind energy market is the lack of standards that define testing procedures. Finalising testing standards at the earliest will benefit stakeholders in the wind energy sector and drive revenues, says market research company Frost & Sullivan industry analyst Sivakumar Narayanaswamy.

“Although the wind energy sector has picked up steam, acceptance of wind as an energy source is slowing down, owing to higher operational and maintenance (O&M) costs. “This has a profound impact in cases where the location of wind energy plants or farms is remote, as in offshore constructions.”

Test equipment manufacturers catering for this market are challenged to provide cost-effective solutions to keep O&M costs low. In the nondestructive test (NDT) equipment segment, inspections on wind plant infrastructure are carried out by visual, radiographic and ultrasonic methods from the design phase to maintenance after installation.

“The use of composite materials in the construction of blades and towers for greater efficiency and reliability necessitates better NDT techniques and tools. “The vendors in this market have to tackle this issue by expediting research and development efforts to keep pace with the evolving component technologies,” says Narayanaswamy.

New opportunities are unfolding for the wind testing market as the need for certification and verification of wind turbine components increases. Both component manufacturers and wind power operators need to test, monitor and inspect procedures during the product’s life cycle, he emphasises.

“Increasingly sophisticated computational interpretation and analytic capabilities of measured data are driving the growth of the condition monitoring solutions market.”

Meanwhile, the adoption of newly developed turbine technologies is likely to trigger fastpaced growth in the global wind industry, says Narayanaswamy.

The compound annual growth rate of global offshore wind farm capacity is pegged at 32% between 2009 and 2015, with its contribution expected to reach 55 GW by 2020.

The study, ‘Renewable Energy Market Opportunities: Wind Testing’, finds that the market earned revenues totalling $60.7million in 2010 and estimates this will reach $84.3million in 2015.

Improved global economic conditions and the gravitation toward renewable energy enabled robust growth for the wind testing market during 2010. With the alarm bells ringing louder over climate change and depletion of natural resources, alternatives, such as wind, solar and geothermal energy as well as biofuels, have been garnering significant attention, he explains.

The trend toward clean energy is under way, with wind turbines becoming the fastest growing energy source in the world and enabling higher power outputs, he concludes.

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