A design-driven wind blade manufacturing model to identify opportunities to reduce wind blade costs


Wind turbines now contribute a significant percentage of the annual electricity generation and have proven to be a reliable source of electricity. This growth in market share of wind energy is a result of impressive improvements in wind turbine reliability, output, and particularly installed cost per kilowatt. The increase in the length of wind blades has been the key driver for the surge in the growth of wind energy due to the length-squared impact on output. Blade designers and manufacturers have also worked diligently to reduce the blade cost per kilogram; however, this cost reduction has been done without any significant introduction of automation or large-scale process changes. This lack of inserting automation has been due to the lack of access to a comprehensive cost model which can include the full range of costs in a product lifecycle and accurately predict the impact of concurrent changes in blade designs and manufacturing processes. This research builds upon prior work that generated process modeling for the calculation of labor man-hours. The current work uses these man-hours to generate four types of labor costs: direct, scrap, consumable, and indirect. Cost modeling is further developed in detail for materials, overheads, and business operations, and integrated into a techno-economic model which can generate the cash flows over multiple years to determine the return on investment for both small and large changes in all aspects of a wind blade cost. The novelty of the proposed TE model is that it includes explicit cost factors that have not been included in previous TE models, such as insurance and warranty, property and income taxes, salaried staff, and profit. Thus, the proposed model is a more comprehensive calculation of blade manufacturing costs than previously available.

Renewable Energy
Mayank Chetan
Mayank Chetan
Wind Energy Researcher

Current research interests include wind turbine structures, aero-elasticity and loads analysis.