Primen: Shipments of microturbines surged more than 300 percent in 2000

MADISON, Wisc., Jan. 24, 2001à‚–Shipments of small electric-generation devicesà‚–known collectively as microturbinesà‚–grew more than 300 percent in 2000, according to Madison-based Primen, an energy market intelligence company.

“The surge in shipments last year demonstrates that the industry is leaving the research and development phase and entering true commercial markets,” said Nicholas Lenssen, Primen senior director of distributed generation and author of the microturbine research. “This may signal that the long-anticipated rapid growth spurt for microturbines has arrived, though uncertainty remains over just how bigà‚–and how fastà‚–the industry will eventually become.”

Going into 2001, microturbine manufacturers also reported a significant number of backorders, which suggests that the increase in sales will continue and may exceed last year’s levels of growth. In fact, Primen forecasts that manufacturers will ship at least 3,500 units, and possibly as many as 5,500 units, this year. These units would provide net electrical capacity of 200-300 megawatts.

For 2000, the Primen research found that industry shipments of microturbines grew to more than 1,200 units, compared to deliveries of 300 units in 1999. In terms of electrical capacity, the growth rate in microturbine shipments was even faster, exceeding 400 percent, with the average capacity of each unit shipped rising to 45 kilowatts in 2000, up from 36 kilowatts in 1999.

Shipment destinations were split almost equally between U.S. and international markets, indicating that microturbines have global appeal and potential. Many of the microturbine installations last year were for upstream oil and gas applications, including supplying power to remote oil and gas fields as well as gas processing.

Many Wall Street investment banks and energy companies have long held that microturbines are well-positioned to become a widespread technical option in the future, and firms such as General Electric, Enron and the Japanese trading house Sumitomo have made microturbine investments in recent years.

Primen’s research also shows that two industry playersà‚–Capstone Turbine Corp., Chatsworth, Calif., and Honeywell Power Systems, Albuquerque, N.M.à‚–dominated the microturbine industry in 2000, accounting for nearly 90 percent of the market. However, other companies plan to expand their presence in microturbine commercial markets over the next 18 months, including Elliott Energy Systems, Stuart, Fla.; Ingersoll-Rand Energy Services, Portsmouth, N.H.; DTE Energy Technologies, San Diego, Calif.; Turbec AB, Malm௿½, Sweden; and Solo Energy Corp., Alameda, Calif.

“In 2001, microturbine companies will need to solidify their early markets, such as upstream oil and gas industry applications, while expanding into new ones such as the retail commercial sector,” Lenssen said. “This strategy will enable them to increase production volume, and thus lower costs.”

Primen’s estimates of industry shipments were derived from a combination of interviews with industry representatives, information gathered at conferences, and tracking of coverage in the financial and trade press. The estimates were developed as part of a status report on microturbines for subscribers to Primen’s new syndicated information service, the Distributed Energy Strategic Service.

Primen is an independent energy market intelligence company that develops, analyzes, and delivers comprehensive, timely information on electric and natural gas markets, competitors, pricing, and new products and services. Primen is an affiliate of the nation’s leading energy research and development organizationsà‚–EPRI, Palo Alto, Calif., and Chicago-based GTI.

For more information about Primen products and services, visit www.primen.com.

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