Wind power boom faces supply crunch amid parts shortage

·2-min read
wind power
wind power

The development of wind farms in Europe and the US is at risk from supply chain bottlenecks, a global trade group has warned.

Shortages of parts and assembly capacity risks holding back the technology required to cut carbon emissions, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).

Politicians need to “act now” to prevent constraints emerging in the second half of the decade, the body added.

It comes as several wind farm developers and manufacturers have sounded the alarm over rising costs and slow grid connections.

Morten Dyrholm, chairman of the GWEC, said: “Scaling up wind energy requires healthy industries and healthy industries require thriving markets.

“There are challenges on the horizon that require bold policy action and strong support for the industry from governments.”

Electricity generation from wind has grown rapidly over the past 20 years, supplying almost 1,900 terawatt-hours globally in 2021.

The International Energy Agency says that figure needs to climb to almost 8,000 terawatt-hours by 2030 in order to hit net zero goals.

The development of new turbines “stalled” last year amid cost pressures and logistical bottlenecks, with 77.6 gigawatts built globally.

But the market is now “ready to bounce back”, as China, Europe and the US ramp up their efforts to cut carbon emissions and cut their reliance on gas.

However, the surge in demand means spare capacity in global supply chains is “likely to disappear in many areas by 2026”, the GWEC said.

With the supply and production of many wind turbine parts currently concentrated in China, the crunch is likely to be felt in the US and Europe.

Europe’s capacity to assemble nacelles – the boxes containing the gearbox and other crucial parts – for offshore wind turbines will need to double by 2030, according to GWEC.

Policies designed to boost local manufacturing risk worsening supply crunches by shutting off capacity abroad, it added.

“For Europe and the US, we expect sufficient supply [of onshore wind nacelles] throughout this decade if western turbine manufacturers can smoothly mobilise the capacity they own in China and India.

“However, if the free flow of the global wind supply chain is interrupted by proposed regional initiatives such as ‘Made in Europe’ and ‘Made in the USA’ – and no new nacelle assembly capacity is built at the same time – we expect to see supply chain constraints in both regions by the middle of this decade.”

China led the growth in wind power last year, installing 47pc of new onshore wind capacity and 70pc of new offshore wind capacity.

It is forecast to account for 61pc of new wind capacity in 2023, GWEC said.