Taking the long view
Up until recently in the wind industry, the aim of many players when affecting the choice of technology seemed
to be based on making the wind turbine as cheaply as possible. PES gets a different perspective from Jukka-Pekka Mäkinen, President and CEO of The Switch.
“We believe looking only at upfront costs is extremely short-sighted,” states Jukka-Pekka Mäkinen. “The stumbling block, especially in emerging markets that are more sensitive to prices, is how project return is approached. Investors are almost exclusively focused on increasing the project return on investment to anywhere between six and eight years. In reality, the lifetime of a modern wind turbine and its associated project value, however, is 25 years.”
When it comes to selecting critical components, like drive trains, decisions driven by CAPEX reduction will eventually lead to higher operation and maintenance costs. Price-led decisions most often than not lead to a backlash when turbine owners realise that long-term reliability is inadequate.
As engineers of advanced drive train technology, the number one objective at The Switch is to ensure that wind farms can produce the maximum amount of power over their entire lifetime, rather than lock into the lowest initial investment costs. Although this idea may seem to be common sense to most, it is a departure from the recurrent investment mentality that has dominated the wind industry throughout its relatively short history.