Companies in this industry operate power generation facilities that use turbines to convert wind into electricity. Major companies include US-based Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Invenergy, NextEra Energy, and Pattern Energy, as well as EDP Renováveis and IBERDROLA Renewables (both based in Spain), EDF (France), and EON Climate & Renewables (Germany).
Demand for wind power generation is driven by public support for alternative, nonpolluting renewable energy production methods, along with government incentives that encourage the production and use of renewable energy. Profitability of individual companies depends on strategically locating wind farms in geographies with sufficient wind conditions and access to electric transmission facilities. Large companies often have other energy holdings (such as traditional electricity generation plants and energy distribution operations), enjoy economies of scale in equipment purchasing, and can serve a broader geographic area. Small companies can compete effectively by promoting themselves as greener than traditional energy companies, and through serving local communities. The industry in the US is highly concentrated: the top 20 companies account for more than 90% of revenue.
Products, Operations & Technology
Wind turbines are typically constructed of steel and come in two basic configurations: horizontal axis and vertical axis. A horizontal axis turbine, the more common of the two styles, consists of a foundation; a tower that supports a rotor consisting of blades, a hub, and a spinner; and a nacelle (box) containing a drive train, a gearbox, a generator, and electronic controls. In windy conditions, a turbine's blades will begin to rotate, generating electricity that is fed into utility power lines and delivered to load centers that then transfer the electricity to the grid.