Wind energy could drive sales for base oils

27 August 2009 21:43  [Source: ICIS news]

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (ICIS news)--Base oil sales could increase as the US and other nations continue to promote wind energy, industry sources said on Thursday.

Wind energy is becoming more popular worldwide, with growth around 20-30%/year, Dick Kuhlman of Afton Chemical said during a presentation before the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (STLE).

The US is the world’s largest generator of wind energy by total megawatt. By 2030, the US Department of Energy predicts that as much as one-fifth of the nation’s power could come from wind.

Growth in the US has grown from 16,819 MW in 2007 to 25,170 MW in 2008, according to the World Wind Energy Association.

The US has 31% of the world market share for wind energy. Spain and Germany are just behind the US for growth. Globally, installed wind capacity is estimated at 152,000 MW for 2009.

Wind mills need all types of lubricants to run, including gear oil, hydraulic fluid and greases. These finished lubricants come from many base stocks including naphthenic, paraffinic and polyalphaolefins (PAO).

Synthetic or Group IV and V formulations are most preferred by gearbox original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the US, while mineral formulations from Group I and II base stocks are requested by the Asian market.

Finished lubricant sellers estimate that wind turbine oil consumption globally in 2010 will be around 32m litres or more.

But the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have determined there are still some problems with the finished lubricants to be worked out.

There are indications that some chemical additives in finished lubricants are causing flaking on the bearings, Kuhlman said. Chemists refer to this as white etching areas (WEA) and are working on formulas to solve the problem.

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