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Manufacturing


Wind affected I


t was all going so well. Glance at industry reports in the months before Covid-19, before anyone had heard of lockdowns or herd immunity or furloughs, and you’d have thought that wind energy was in for a bumper year. As work by Mordor Intelligence noted at the tail end of 2020, the industry was expected to grow by 7.9% every year to 2025 – optimism equalled if not surpassed by insiders themselves. Writing for S&P Global in December 2019, one analyst wrote of “swelling” wind pipelines, with another specialist in January 2020 boasting that, in the US alone, three- quarters of this year’s new generating capacity would be renewable.


Nor were these predictions merely wishful thinking. On a warming planet – and one where wind energy enjoys 20% more efficiency than green alternatives like solar – it’s no wonder that investment in wind energy quadrupled over the first half of this year. The irony, of course, is that, right now, all this enthusiasm risks going nowhere. With the international economy struggling to recover, and strict restrictions still in place, this most global of industries has struggled to


get its supply chain in order since early 2020 – with many projects delayed or postponed. Even so, the situation is far from hopeless. With so much at stake, for their account books if not the planet, it’s no wonder that companies have been eager to shift to the new post-pandemic reality, tweaking some elements of their supply chains and reforming others. Whatever turbine operators and their suppliers are doing, though, one point seems certain: the traditional supply chains that existed before the pandemic are probably gone forever – with significant implications for the industry at large.


Delicate operation


How are wind turbines built? The answer: carefully. Even a single wind turbine, let alone a whole farm, is a monumental feat of engineering – one requiring seamless collaboration between businesses, hauliers and officials across hundreds or thousands of miles. “A robust supply chain is critical to deliver the right products at the right cost level at the right time,” says Ken Kaser, senior vice-president of operations


From starting 2020 on a high, the wind industry has – inevitably – found itself scrambling to adjust to Covid-19 and all its consequences over the past 18 months. And from disrupted supply chains and delayed projects, there’s certainly plenty to chew on – even if, over the long term, the industry’s future still looks cheery. Andrea Valentino chats to Ken Kaser and Steve Dayney from Siemens Gamesa, and Shashi Barla, a Wood Mackenzie analyst, about how the wind industry has fared in the age of Covid, what that has meant for industry supply chains and how its geographical make-up might change.


World Wind Technology / www.worldwind-technology.com


orld Wind Technology / www.worldwind-technology.com


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Siemens Gamesa


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