What will the Wind Power Industry of the Future Look Like?
Energy systems and consumer energy demand is changing globally. In different parts of the world, there is increasing legislation that is encouraging lower-carbon energy use.
In June 2018 for example, the European Union increased its renewables target to 32% by 20301, and in China regulators have set a renewable energy target of 15% by 20202. The Canadian government has also recently said that all federal institutions will be powered 100% by renewable electricity no later than 20253.
As the demand for cleaner energy solutions increases, the advantages of wind energy are coming to the fore, setting it up to play a key role in the energy future.
To ensure the energy source remains as competitive as possible, the wind energy industry has increased investment in new sites, new technologies and new ways of working.
At Shell, we’ve committed to investing up to USD$2 billion a year until 2020 in a range of services and products from a cleaner sources. Between 2021 and 2025, our investments in power alone could grow to an average of USD$2-3 billion a year.
We also have a global ambition to reduce the carbon intensity of the energy products we sell by around 20% by 2035 and around 50% by 2050. We call this our Net Carbon Footprint ambition.
There is credible evidence that wind is taking off in a big way. This has given way to a plethora of new innovations designed to create more efficient, more powerful operations.
Five wind power innovations set to change the industry
1. World’s most powerful wind turbine: GE Renewables announced plans to develop the Haliade-X, a 12MW turbine that will cost USD$400 million and take five years to develop. It is set to produce 45% more energy than any other offshore turbine.
2. UK builds its first subsidy-free wind farm: the Withernwick II extension project is the first subsidy-free wind farm in the UK. This is one of several subsidy-free projects in Europe, with analysts reporting that the industry is on the cusp of a cost efficiency breakthrough.
3. Stanford develops water-based battery: researchers have created a water-based battery that, when scaled, will store more power more efficiently than current technologies. And it’s being specifically designed for use in the wind and solar power sectors.
4. Floating wind power: Shell has partnered with Makani to bring their airborne wind power system to offshore environments. We are also a major shareholder in Tetraspar Demo – a new floating turbine foundation, that offers leaner manufacturing, assembly and installation leading to lower costs.
5. The rise of offshore wind in emerging markets: In addition to priority opportunities in mature markets such as the North Sea, Shell is looking to emerging markets such as offshore India, Korea, the USA and Japan.
New innovations, new equipment, new maintenance needs
Wind turbine maintenance is a challenge in itself, with their remote and often hostile locations. Add to this the bigger turbines, bigger blades, harsher winds, and so on, that we see being used to power up the sector in the examples above, and it’s clear that the industry must recognise that proactive and effective maintenance is now more important than ever to protect this new high value equipment.
Shell Lubricants experts and engineers have worked onsite, and, in the lab, collaborating with wind turbine technicians and OEMs throughout the world, to develop industry-leading wind turbine lubricants that meet the turbine maintenance requirements of tomorrow.
Specifically designed for use on wind turbine bearings, gearboxes, and other moving parts, our products are designed to work in challenging environments, with temperatures ranging from -30 - +50C. As wind farms and wind turbines get bigger, more powerful and more sophisticated, Shell Lubricants can help reduce unplanned equipment downtime, cutting avoidable costs and increasing wind turbine power output, no matter where your wind farm is or what environment it operates in.
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