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“Massive Rethinking Required”

Ever larger, more powerful, and more cost-effective – the wind power industry is weathering some storms. Marcel Schreiner, Global Segment Director of the Energy Division at Freudenberg Sealing Technologies and wind power expert, describes why the cut-throat price war in the industry must end and why even small parts make a big impact.

Mr. Schreiner, the media constantly reports on massive problems in the wind power industry. How did this come about?

Marcel Schreiner: In recent years, wind turbine manufacturers have experienced a massively increased pricing pressure. As a result, the systems being sold by the producers are growing in size and going to market in ever shorter cycles. And at the same time, turbines that don’t even exist yet are being already sold so that the companies are awarded contracts during auctions for new wind farms. This is because larger turbines can be offered at a lower price per megawatt hour.

Portrait of Marcel Schreiner.
Marcel Schreiner – Freudenberg wind power expert

To keep up with the price war, many manufacturers are shortening the development cycles of their wind turbines so much that they sometimes install turbines that haven’t been fully developed and tested yet. This now creates major quality problems, even in new turbines, and immense costs for maintenance and repair.

Does this situation also affect Freudenberg Sealing Technologies?

Schreiner: Particularly when it comes to renewable energies, technologies have always developed dynamically. That’s why it is even more important to stay flexible and work closely with the customers. Our approach and one of our quality features is to strongly work with wind turbine manufacturers on solutions for the energy supply of the future.

We also feel the high pricing pressure in the industry, that’s for sure. But this year in particular, we have repeatedly stopped this by withdrawing from the price war. This means we deliberately give up on business in this important growth sector for us. But that’s just how it is: Delivering products with high quality and durability will continue to be our standard. This is also why we don’t compromise to get better prices or save on materials. We’re committed to this.

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The solution is simple: If you invest in quality at the beginning, you avoid follow-up costs during the system’s lifecycle, which are often many times higher.

Marcel Schreiner, Global Segment Director of the Energy Division

Then how can this problem be solved?

Schreiner: The solution is simple: If you invest in quality at the beginning, you avoid follow-up costs during the system’s lifecycle, which are often many times higher.

Here is an example that also shows why it is important to have a differentiated view of the various wind turbine components: The seals and accumulators from Freudenberg Sealing Technologies are only a very small part of the total investment volume for a wind turbine – but at the same time, precisely these parts have an immense effect when it comes to the wind turbine’s flawless operation in the long term. If a turbine manufacturer were to accept costs during the acquisition that are a negligible part of the overall balance, some of the quality-related costs could certainly be avoided or significantly reduced. This is how parts that seem minor get to have a big effect.

In summary, you might say: The industry is nickeling and diming itself to death. That’s why a massive rethinking is urgently required – away from higher, faster, further, but towards high quality systems that have been developed realistically and. In addition to the manufacturers, politicians are also called on to create the appropriate framework conditions.

More information about Onshore/Offshore Wind Turbines

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