More than a few recent wind industry discussions have focused on the effect of high water content in wind turbine gear oil. Some research suggests that high-water content could be problematic for rolling contacts (friction) and have a detrimental effect on bearing life. The impact of water content in synthetic waind turbine gear oil depends on whether the water content is near its saturation limit and if it fully dissolves in the lube.
A few conventional synthetic hydrocarbon-based wind turbine gear oil include those referred to as ashless, and sulfur or phosphorous additive package. In contrast, non-ashless or organo-metallic wind turbine gear oil is also based on synthetic hydrocarbons, a special plastic deformation (PD), and a surface improvement additive package. When activated by high specific loads and corresponding temperatures, synthetic wind turbine gear oil helps equalize roughness without creating abrasion leading to the surface improvement.
Organo-metallic wind turbine gear oil is designed to protect and maximize the performance of wind turbine gearboxes. This formulation offers high-load carrying capability and a low coefficient of friction with superior protection against micropitting. The wind turbine gear oil can even reverse some gearbox damage.
A well-known and independent testing tribological research organization, conducted a series of tests to measure the effect of water in different lubricants and lubrication regimes, and report on the findings.
The poly-alpha-olefin-based, ISO 320-grade wind turbine gear oil tested include:
- Conventional ashless lubricant with an additive – its typical saturation limit of water is at 60° C and around 250 ppm
- PD additive (organo-metallic) with a saturation limit of water typically at 60° C and around 1,000 ppm
Global Wind Turbine Gear Oil Market: Introduction
Since early recorded history, humans have been harnessing the energy of wind through various devices, such as wind turbines. Wind energy has been developing very rapidly in the past years. Wind turbines are one of the machines that utilize wind energy to generate electric power. The installation of wind turbines has undergone a significant growth rate of double-digits in the last decade. Wind turbines consist of various components, such as nacelles, brakes, rotors, yaw systems, drive systems, and wind turbine gearboxes. The wind turbine gearbox is the most crucial component in terms of high rates of failure and downtime. Thus, wind turbine gear oil is indispensably used to maintain the proper functioning of a wind turbine gearbox. Wind turbine gear oil should possess necessary characteristics such as viscosity, pour point, foaming characteristics, steel/copper corrosion, and scuffing load resistance.
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Despite significant advancements in wind turbine gearbox designs, it remains a high maintenance cost driver, owing to high associated repairing costs. This proliferates lucrative growth opportunities for the wind turbine gear oil market. Further, in order to enhance the lifespan of the bearings and gearboxes utilized in wind turbines, manufacturers have increasingly focused on improving oil quality. Oil contamination and mechanical wear are cited reasons for the reduced lifetime of the wind turbine gearbox. Additionally, the main sources of oil contamination in wind turbines include solid particles, moisture, and entrained air. Consequently, there has been encouraging demand for wind turbine gear oil on the back of the substantial replacement rate of gear oil.
Global Wind Turbine Gear Oil Market: Market Dynamics
The massive deployment of wind turbines across the globe has been attributed to the support of public policies. Importantly, two main drivers that influence the wind turbine gear oil market are specifications and changes in wind turbine gearboxes. Geographic-specific specifications resul in more stringent performance standards for wind turbine gear oil. Wind energy makes a significant contribution to energy and climate objectives, energy security, and competitiveness in many countries. Thus, substantial demand for wind turbine gear oil is poised to endure in the forthcoming years. In the future, biodegradable wind turbine gear oils with increased service life may carve out a place in the market. Further, a drop in the demand for wind turbines may likely impede the growth of the wind turbine gear oil market.
Existing manufacturers of wind turbine gear oil face strong competition in the wake of emerging suppliers, particularly in China. New and high-performance synthetic wind turbine gear oils are subject to the tests of OEMs in order to meet a number of universal standards.
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Global Wind Turbine Gear Oil Market: Market Segmentation
The global wind turbine gear oil market can be segmented on the basis of sales channel, application, and region.
On the basis of sales channel, the global wind turbine gear oil market can be segmented as:
On the basis of application, the global wind turbine gear oil market can be segmented as:
- Light-duty Purpose
- High-duty Purpose
Global Wind Turbine Gear Oil Market: Regional Outlook
Western European countries such as Spain, Portugal, Germany, etc., have mostly been reliant on feed-in tariffs, which has led to accelerating investments in renewable energy technologies. In the U.S., Renewable Portfolio Standards have been implemented. The aforementioned factors are likely to bolster the growth of the wind turbine gear oil market. More than three-quarters of the globally installed wind power capacity is located in the U.S., Germany, India, France, the U.K., and China. These countries are anticipating huge demand growth against the backdrop of heavy investments and federal policies for a greener environment.
Further, China is an economy that witnesses fast economic growth and rapid transformation, thereby supporting the growth of the wind turbine gear oil market. However, the demand for wind turbine gear oil in China is estimated to slow down, partly due to lower subsidies pertained to wind turbines. Among the Middle Eastern & African countries, South Africa is likely to remain at the forefront in terms of demand for wind turbine gear oil, owing to large installed wind power capacity. Similarly, Turkey is increasingly turning toward renewable energy sources, such as wind turbines, etc., which will also pull in new investments and reinforce the growth of the wind turbine gear oil market. Furthermore, Brazil is set to head the wind turbine gear oil market in Latin America, despite an anticipated drop of wind turbine installations in the country. Therefore, a moderate to high growth rate can be foreseen in the foreseeable future across the globe.
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