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Manufacturing


Covid-19 has caused issues for the supply chains of blade manufacturing and transportation.


fewer options. All the same, companies are looking further afield for the technology they need, with South East Asian countries such as Malaysia and Thailand primed to build more extensive power units and semiconductors. More broadly, manufacturers and operators are reexamining the human side of the supply chain too. Though we tend to think of the field as a purely technical one – getting springs and motors and blades from place to place – what happens if your flesh-and-blood engineers are locked down at home? Once again, Kaser suggests, his team can borrow from earlier experiences, particularly when it comes to remote monitoring of sites. “Siemens Gamesa has had advanced remote monitoring for many years,” he says, explaining that globally his company monitors over 10,000 turbines every single day. And given 85% of faults can be fixed remotely, this puts the company in a strong position – whether future lockdowns prevent staff from travelling to a site, or if social distancing rules preclude them from sitting on a cramped maintenance vessel.


If the competition is even half as organised as Siemens Gamesa, in other words, it seems clear that the wind industry isn’t quite as lost as you might imagine. Not that intrepid executives such as Kaser can do everything alone. As his colleague Steve Dayney – the North American head of offshore – says, cooperation with national and local governments has been instrumental in surviving the past year relatively unscathed. Getting the industry back on its feet certainly required a strong collaboration across the board. “Whether in China, India, Germany or Morocco, we have relied on their guidelines for health and safety to help us keep our employees safe,” Dayney says. The same is true in the US, Dayney adds, explaining that from slashed red tape to new port infrastructure, “We appreciate the support of the


World Wind Technology / www.worldwind-technology.com


[government] on its efforts to simplify and streamline the development of major projects.”


The world keeps spinning What, then, for the future of the wind energy supply chain? Given how well his company’s fared so far, Dayney is unsurprisingly upbeat, especially when it comes to growth. “Siemens Gamesa is ready for the US offshore market, and we see a significant construction market developing from 2022 onward, and we plan to use our unparalleled experience to make it a success.”


“To a certain extent, Covid-19 is a blessing in disguise, as they [companies] are forced to switch up the supply chain.”


Shashi Barla


Shashi Barla makes a similar point, suggesting that companies are busy expanding their supply chains in anticipation of future pandemics. “Companies are expanding the offshore supply chain into new geographies. To a certain extent, Covid-19 is a blessing in disguise, as they are forced to switch up the supply chain.”


Beyond where they procure components, meanwhile, Kaser wonders if the shocks of the past year will push companies to keep more in stock, just in case disaster strikes again. “On the inventory side, we believe that many industries in general may now need to rethink their approach to keeping minimal stock on hand and relying on just-in-time deliveries. The crisis has driven the risks of this way of operating home.”


One would hope that the wind industry would absorb these lessons sooner than most. With so many jobs on the line – to say nothing of the future of the planet at large – it would be a pity if the optimists were knocked back yet again. ●


1.2GW


Energy value of wind turbine projects that suffered delays due to the pandemic.


US Energy Information Administration


25


Jarno Holappa/Shutterstock.com


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