Manufacturing

Gearbox craned into nacelleOverview

The U.S. wind manufacturing sector consists of more than 500 manufacturing facilities spread across 43 states producing the more than 8,000 components that comprise a typical wind turbine. 

  • In 2015, the U.S. wind energy supply chain included eight utility-scale blade facilities, nine tower facilities, and four turbine nacelle assembly facilities, all spread across 15 states.
  • 88% of the wind power capacity installed in the U.S. during 2015 used a turbine manufacturer with at least one U.S. manufacturing facility.
  • Major manufacturing facilities have the capability to produce approximately 10,200 MW of turbine nacelles, more than 10,000 individual blades, and more than 3,100 towers annually.

U.S. Manufacturing Facilities 2015

 Source: AWEA U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report 2015

Wind Turbine Manufacturers

In 2015, four wind turbine original equipment manufacturer (OEM) assembled utility-scale turbines in the U.S. Annual U.S. production capability for wind turbine nacelles stands at approximately 10,200 MW. During 2015, 88% of the wind power capacity installed in the U.S. used a turbine manufacturer with at least one U.S. manufacturing facility. The top three wind turbine manufacturers, measured by cumulative share of the U.S. wind turbine fleet, are GE Renewable Energy, Vestas, and Siemens.

Market Share for Wind Turbine Manufacturers

 Source: AWEA U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report 2015

Over the past five years, annual wind project installations have grown at an average rate of 13% per year, incentivizing companies to enter into the domestic wind supply chain. In turn, these companies are creating jobs and strengthening the domestic manufacturing base in the United States. This new growth is happening in communities where manufacturers from other industries have closed their facilities in recent years:

  • In 2006, the city of Newton, IA, faced high unemployment levels when a major manufacturer shuttered its plant and laid off hundreds of employees. In response, the Texas wind tower manufacturer Trinity Structural Towers retrofitted 300,000 square feet of the manufacturing facility in 2008 to produce steel and concrete wind towers and re-opened the plant in 2009.
  • Major blade manufacturer TPI Composites also opened a 316,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Newton in 2008, employing 500 Iowa residents and producing fiberglass blades to the wind industry.

Wind Industry Supply Chain

Growth in the number and productivity of large turbine manufacturers is driving demand for local manufacturers to supply turbine subcomponents. This represents a major market opportunity for manufacturing companies. Wind turbines have over 8,000 components in such areas as:

  • Power transmission: wind turbines have a sizable and complex power transmission system, requiring bearings, couplings, gears, hydraulic systems, brakes, machined and fabricated components and shafts, among other components
  • Electrical: the electrical system is a critical part of a wind turbine. Common components include power converters, controls, sensors and generator components
  • Structural: turbines use a huge number of fasteners, castings and other steel products.
  • Equipment: a variety of components, such as fall protection, turbine lighting and other systems are needed. Turbines also require unique construction and on-site equipment.
  • Materials: turbines are primarily composed of large amounts of steel, but other materials, such as composites, ductile iron, concrete, aluminum, copper and adhesives, are also used.

Stable policy entices major wind manufacturers to invest in U.S. based facilities, often bringing their supply chain with them. This has helped to bring down wind turbine costs and has boosted domestic content. The market will continue to offer new opportunities as current and new manufacturers develop domestic supply chains.

Anatomy of a Wind Turbine

Turbine cut-away

Source: AWEA U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report Year Ending 2014 ©