Wind Turbine Owner-Operators Must Address Associated Risks as New Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) Enter the Global Market


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Wind turbine owners and operators capitalizing on the entry of new Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) into the global wind market must thoroughly assess and mitigate associated risks. Firetrace International, a leading provider of fire suppression technology to the global renewable industry, emphasizes the importance of transparent, global data sharing on fire incidents. This collaboration is crucial for the wind industry to establish best practices in fire risk management and avoid public scrutiny during high-profile events.

Currently, Chinese manufacturers dominate 60% of the global wind turbine market, primarily securing orders domestically. Nevertheless, OEMs like Goldwind, Envision, and Mingyang Smart Energy have experienced steady growth due to improved cost competitiveness, attracting developers in Japan, the U.S., and Europe, as manufacturers seek expansion into new territories.

Simultaneously, financial challenges faced by long-term Western OEMs create opportunities for new OEMs to gain market share, meeting the escalating demand for wind turbines amid global energy transition plans. Wood Mackenzie, a British research firm, notes the difficulty for developers and lawmakers to dismiss Chinese suppliers, signaling a potential industry shift.

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The introduction of new turbines with different designs and operations compared to traditional machines naturally increases the overall risk profile of wind projects. This risk will persist until the market gathers data to better understand their performance and optimal operation and maintenance practices. Additionally, as the global expansion of wind capacity accelerates, more assets are placed in remote or offshore locations, elevating the risk of catastrophic losses from fire incidents. In remote areas, the threat of fires spreading beyond control becomes significant, especially considering the increased global occurrence and susceptibility to wildfires. These factors underscore the growing importance of managing fire risks in wind assets.

“The introduction of Chinese OEMs onto the global wind market will help build resilience in the supply chain and ensure market competition. But the industry cannot afford to be blurry on who in the supply chain holds the responsibility for mitigating health and safety risks, such as the risk of fire,” said Joe DeBellis, Senior Global Sales Manager at Firetrace. “We have seen this happen before with OEMs, under-pressure to deliver turbines as affordably and quickly as possible, passing this responsibility onto owner operators, but owner operators assuming the risk has been designed out in manufacturing or seemingly happy to pass on the responsibility to their insurance provider.”

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“Despite the pressure they are under, many OEMs are now taking proactive approaches to mitigating health and safety risks. But with a hardening insurance market moving to exclude loss of revenue and surrounding area damage from fire incident claims, new turbines designs being added to fleets, and the impact of climate change on the likelihood of wildfires, owner operators must nevertheless take the time to fully investigate, understand and mitigate the fire risks of new machines.”

“Access to wind turbine data and historical performance is critical for owner operators to successfully mitigate risks and transparent data on fire incidents needs to be shared globally by all parties. Without this information, it is harder to diagnose problems and, therefore, correct them for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

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