Descriptive Text of Value Chain Step
The rotor module includes both the rotor blades and the rotor hub. Rotor blades convert wind energy to low speed rotational energy. The rotor hub, to which the rotor blades are bolted, allows blades to rotate in varying wind speeds. Anatomy of a typical rotor blade and its manufacturing process are illustrated in Figure DI.1. Most manufacturers create multiple blade types for a single type of turbine to ensure that the turbine can perform most efficiently in all wind conditions. The rotor module accounted for approximately 20% of the cost of an on-shore wind power project in 2015, see Figure DI.2 below.
There are two major types of rotor blade original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the U.S.: (1) OEMs with in-house production capabilities, and (2) established European suppliers investing in production in the U.S. GE Renewable Energy (LM Wind Power), Molded Fiber Glass, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, TPI Composites, and Vestas make up the vast majority of rotor blade manufacturing capacity in the U.S. As of 2017, there are seven blade manufacturing facilities in operation in the U.S., capable of producing approximately 11,500 individual blades annually.
The rotor blade manufacturing in the value chain is covered by “Turbine and Turbine Generator Set Units Manufacturing” (NAICS 333611). As reported in the 2012 Economic Census, there are 183 establishments, 36,955 employees covered under this industry with a value of shipments of 16.9 billion dollars. However, even at their most disaggregated level (six-digit code), each of the NAICS codes covers a range of components, products, and services beyond those specific to rotor blade manufacturing.
Figure DI.1 Blade Process and Cross-Section
Source: Figure 1.2.2b in Global Wind Network (2014). U.S. Wind Energy Manufacturing and Supply Chain: A Competitiveness Analysis. Original information from BASF Corporation.
Figure DI.2 Capital Expenditures for the Reference Onshore Wind Plant Project
Source: Recreated from Figure 5 in Mone et al. (2017) 2015 Cost of Wind Energy Review, National Renewable Energy Laboratory Technical Report NREL/TP-6A20-66861.