GE Renewable Energy retained leadership of the hotly competitive US onshore wind turbine market last year with its order books accounting for 47% of 13.4GW capacity installed nationwide, almost entirely on the strength of its best-selling 2.8-127 model, according to updated numbers from the American Clean Power Association (ACP).
Project developers installed 5.7GW of the 2.8-127s in 2021, or 42% of total new capacity across the industry, something that has not occurred for a single model in the past 15 years.
A total of 426MW was made up by five other GE models ranging from 2.3MW to 3.8MW nameplate capacity. There was another 250MW put in operation for which the turbine type was not identified.
In 2020, the power technology giant took 53% of the market when a record 16.9GW was installed but this included nine turbine models ranging from 1.5MW-5MW.
GE’s loss of share partly reflects rapid growth in the 4MW and above segment of the US market where it did not sell a single turbine last year. The company also lost significant ground in the 2-2.3MW segment with 168MW installed versus 1GW in 2020.
GE, which benefits by its status as the lone US OEM, has been the leading turbine supplier in its home market except for 2016-17 when it was supplanted by Vestas.
The Danish global pacesetter was the number two OEM again last year with 26% of installed capacity but also saw its share of the market decline from 34% in 2020, according to Clean Power Annual Market Report.
Vestas lengthened its lead as the top supplier in the 2-2.3MW market segment, but saw its clear lead in the 4MW-plus nameplate classes come under challenge from both Nordex and Siemens Gamesa.
Project developers installed 1.66GW of the large class turbines compared to 1.25GW by Nordex and 1.04GW by Siemens Gamesa, whose SG 5.0-145 was the biggest nameplate capacity turbine employed in a US project last year.
Siemens Gamesa edged Nordex for third place among OEMs, booking 1.77GW versus 1.76GW in new orders, even though fewer of its turbines were installed, as all Nordex models had 3MW or greater nameplate ratings. There were seven models and variants of Siemens Gamesa turbines installed between 2.1MW and 2.75MW, according to the ACP report.
Goldwind, the only Chinese OEM with a US market presence, did not have a single turbine placed in operation in 2021 after 202MW were installed the previous year.
In 2021, the average wind turbine rating was 2.9MW, a 7% increase from 2020. Over the past decade wind turbines have increased their rotor diameters and hub heights, which has in turn increased nameplate capacities.
Hub heights are increasing to capture the higher wind speeds that exist at higher altitudes, known as wind shear, with the average rising from 80 metres to 91metres in the last decade.
A larger rotor diameter allows wind turbines to have a larger swept area, therefore capturing more wind and producing more electricity. This makes lower wind power areas more economically feasible for wind projects.
The emerging offshore wind sector is scheduled to begin installing turbines for commercial-scale projects next year. In 2021, Dominion installed two 6MW Siemens Gamesa turbines for its pilot project off the coast of Virginia.