It is estimated that three equipment manufacturers, Alstom Power, Andritz Hydro and Voith Hydro, account for 80% of the market share. However, competition is growing from Korean and Chinese companies.
Chinese companies face an advantage in that Chinese banks are now lending more for hydro projects involving Chinese manufacturers. One common thread linking all the manufacturers is that they are generalists: they supply products for all sized projects and both new and existing facilities.
There has been little innovation in basic technology for the sector. Where innovation has occurred, it has been in the use of computing technologies to monitor plants, diagnose problems, protect assets and control operations or in reducing the environmental impact of plants. This is partly the reason why run-of-river projects are becoming popular.
The upgrading of existing facilities or dams with no previous existing hydro power capacity is also popular because it is often cheaper per kilowatt than new build and does not exploit a ‘virgin’ water source. However, upgrading of facilities involves re-registering the plant to meet 21st century standards, even if the plant was originally built 30, 40 or 50 years ago. As a result, it is unlikely that all ageing plants will be repowered.
Another trend is the increasing use of pumped storage. It is the most mature storage technology for electricity generated from intermittent renewables.
NRG Expert expects run-of-river, upgrading and pumped storage requirements to feature more in orders from hydro manufacturers.
Alstom Power (France)
The French conglomerate, Alstom Power, covers the entire energy sector and is horizontally integrated in the hydro sector. Including its Hydro PlantLife™ Programme, which helps plant owners ‘manage, protect and maximise their investment all along the lifetime of their equipment´, Alstom turbines and generators represent more than 25% of the worldwide installed capacity. With the pending merger with GE, the new venture is set to gain in industry penetration and market share capacity.
Austrian Andritz manufactures equipment for a range of sectors: hydro, pulp and paper, metals, environment and process and feed and biofuel sectors. Like Alstom Power, it produces various products such as large hydro turnkey solutions, a compact hydro range, generator turbos, pumps and propellers. Its services include monitoring, diagnosis, servicing and rehabilitation of existing plants.
Voith Hydro (Germany)
Voith Hydro is a joint venture between Siemens and Voith, formed in 2000. As with the other top two companies, Voith Hydro produces products and services for large hydro, small hydro and ocean energy, including wave and tidal power. It is estimated that the company has installed more than 40,000 turbines and generators.