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Oilfield Market to Drive Natural Gas-Related Microturbines

By 2020, the struggling but still viable microturbine industry globally will surpass $1 billion in annual revenues, driven in large part by the shale boom's manufacturing need for increasing more electricity from distributed generation sources, according to a report released Tuesday by Navigant Research.

Navigant's report breaks down today's market for microturbines by applications, market segments and economics, forecasting capacities and revenues expected globally through 2024. Remote power applications in the oil/gas industry will continue to be a primary market, the report said.

While the Boulder, CO-based research firm’s report is only available to subscribers, a spokesperson said the still-emerging distributed generation (DG) technology will be primarily driven by the expected global expansion of shale production. The global prospects are positive, the spokesperson said.

The report, titled "Microturbines," on the Navigant website (www.navigantresearch.com) is intended to provide an analytical overview of the global microturbine market.

"Because they are compatible with a wide range of opportunity fuels, microturbines are also an attractive solution in combined heat and power (CHP) configurations where grid electricity costs remain high," the spokesperson said.

Navigant's assessment saw "steady" revenue growth for microturbines globally during the past five years, but the downturn in oil/gas activity with the global price slide for the past 12 months has led to reduced sales to manufacturers. Nevertheless, the report said the market should recover as shale oil/gas development continues, creating renewed interest in the technology.

The worldwide annual revenue from microturbines in 2020 is expected to top $1 billion, and North America and Asia Pacific are anticipated to account for the majority of cumulative revenue generated from global microturbine installments between 2015 and 2024, the report said. During that period, the report estimated that more than 4 GW of microturbine capacity will be installed globally on a cumulative basis.

"The adoption of microturbines among commercial and industrial applications represents strong growth opportunities, especially in large addressable markets like North America where shale gas is relatively inexpensive, stable and abundant," said Dexter Gauntlett, senior research analyst with Navigant Research.

Gauntlett warns in the report that microturbine companies face growing competition from other onsite DG technologies. "Microturbine companies will need to expand their respective visibility in the marketplace, particularly among key customer types that might be less familiar with the technology, despite its advantages in key markets and applications," he said.

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