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Techno-Economic Model and Simulation for Wind Blade Manufacturing



The ongoing demand to reduce the LCOE (Levelized Cost of Electricity) drives the wind industry to explore new technologies that will advance the state-of-the-art for composite wind blade manufacturing. These new technologies span the range from new resins and fibers, to improved blade designs, to innovative manufacturing techniques. However, since the introduction and widespread adoption of vacuumassisted resin-infusion techniques for blade making, there has been no significant change in the basic labor-intensive manufacturing process for wind blade production. In the current research, a Techno-Economic Model (TEM) and a complementary simulation of a generic wind blade manufacturing facility are developed. The TEM is sufficiently robust to take into account the very rapid product refresh cycle (and concurrent consumption of capital), differences in blade lengths, and the potential future composite technologies such as carbon fiber and thermoplastics that could impact the blade design and resulting manufacturing processes. To investigate the long-term costs and benefits, the TEM also takes into account the cash flows over a multi-year period so that the true value of improvements can be identified and used to justify capital investment in automation and other process changes. The complimentary simulation is built in DELMIA. DELMIA allows for a visual tool to evaluate how changes in the manufacturing steps will impact process flow and timing. The integration of these two models into a full Techno-Economic Analysis (TEA) provides a comprehensive tool to identify opportunities for increasing throughput and for exploring the impact of capital investments.


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