Over the last several years, wind has taken on an increasingly prominent role in the energy sector. As more and more countries look to build a more sustainable energy footprint, manufacturers are rising to the occasion and bringing more powerful turbines to market with higher capacity factors that reduce the levelised cost of energy (LCOE).

In order for wind to remain a competitive energy alternative, pundits say that LCOE costs need to be reduced by 25% over the next five years, and by 40% by 2030.

Good news: As the wind energy sector continues its steady growth, breakthroughs in modular design have enabled leading-edge manufacturers to deliver the perfect solution in rapid time — and with the peace of mind that comes with customers knowing they will be able to continue to leverage the latest technologies on the market.

ZF Wind Power is the first manufacturer that has brought innovative modular designs to the market. Up next, let’s explore some of the transformative benefits that operators that take advantage of ZF’s breakthrough solutions will enjoy.

The benefits of a modular platform

When wind energy projects were less common, manufacturers delivered bespoke solutions engineered specifically for the job at hand.

As they’ve become more ubiquitous, an increasing number of innovative wind turbine manufacturers are parenting with OEM vendors that produce modular components, like gearboxes.

By doing so, they are able to deliver a number of benefits to end users.

1. The perfect turbine

The modular approach to design enables customers to select the perfect components for their specific use case. Instead of building a wholly bespoke solution from scratch or being forced to utilise whatever the vendor offers, customers can pick and choose the machinery they need to achieve their objectives cost-effectively.

With a torque range covering 3000 to 8000 kNm, ZF's SHIFT modular gearbox platform portfolio enables cost-efficient turbine designs for all markets with a wind power density ranging from 125 W/m2 up to 500 W/m2.

2. Faster time to market

Modular components enable end users to turn their turbines on faster. By leveraging ZF Wind Power’s SHIFT product line, for example, manufacturers are able to put together the right solution for the job in less time. Since many operators typically compete for a wind market at the same time, this can help customers capture an even bigger share

3. Leading technology

Modular platforms also enable manufacturers to take advantage of the latest technologies on the market. For example, ZF Wind Turbine’s SHIFT gearboxes recently became the first manufacturer to cross the 200 Nm/kg barrier thanks to a number of new technologies and casting materials — an impressive accomplishment that has yet to be replicated by other vendors on the market. Older-generation turbines simply are not capable of this output.

4. Cost savings

In today’s difficult economic reality, controlling costs is perhaps more important than ever before. By using modular solutions, manufacturers can avoid never-ending change orders when construction projects or in flight. They can build predictability into their investments while extending their useful life with modular components.

5. A future-proof solution

Modular gearboxes also enable manufacturers to continuously leverage the most efficient and powerful technologies and designs on the market. This, in turn, enables customers to keep LCOE costs in check throughout the entire lifecycle of the investment.

In other words, instead of having to rebuild from the ground up, manufacturers can substitute modular components that fit existing design specifications to modernize their portfolios. It’s an easy way to future-proof their products while helping customers achieve their sustainability goals.

Add it all up, and these opportunities are too good for manufacturers and end users to turn down.

ZF Wind Power partnerships: Second to none

Choosing to go with a modular provider can mean all the difference between the success or failure of a project. But not all vendors are the same.

This is another area where ZF Wind Power really stands out. The company boasts strategic partnerships with the world’s top OEMs on modular gearbox and drivetrain solutions for high-performance onshore wind for up to 8000kNm. ZF also has similar partnerships for offshore solutions. This breadth of operations truly makes the company stand out among the competition.

For more information on how modular providers like ZF Wind Power are helping to usher in a brighter tomorrow, check this out.