T&D World Magazine

Global Utility, Industrial Markets for Protective Relays Continue to Grow in 2007

The Newton-Evans Research Company has completed a nine-month research program, conducting a global survey of protective relay usage patterns in the world’s electric power business. Findings from more than 200 North American utilities and from more than 40 international utilities from major countries around the world point up the continuation of trends first observed in the company’s earlier editions of the same study. The findings have been compiled into a series of four reports.

The percentage of digital relays in the mix of the millions of protective relays used by the world’s utilities continues to increase. Nearly 60% of the installed generator relays and more than one half of transmission line relays in North America are now digital units. The majority of all new and retrofit relays for all electric power grid protection and control applications being purchased for electric utility use are digital units. There continue to be several niche market opportunities for the application of electro-mechanical and solid-state relays. International utilities in many regions are continuing to move rapidly to digital technology, even more so than was observed in the 2004 study by Newton-Evans. Some developing nations with a still-growing electric power infrastructure are leapfrogging North American and Western European utilities and industrial end-users by specifying all digital relays be used throughout their organization or their country.Among the study’s highlights are the following observations:

  • On a worldwide basis, the annual market for medium and high-voltage protective relaying products and equipment currently exceeds the $1.5 billion dollar level as we move further into the 21st century. Only a portion of the total market for protective relays is made up of the world’s electric utilities directly, with significant indirect sales made to industrial companies, to OEM suppliers that integrate relays into other equipment used by utilities and industrial/commercial end-users, and to independent power producers.
  • There are currently at least six suppliers of protective relays and ancillary equipment that each enjoy a minimum of $125 million in sales into the global market (ABB, Areva T&D, GE, Nanjing Automation Research Institute, Schweitzer Engineering Labs, and Siemens). The Spanish firms Arteche and ZIV, the French firms Schneider and CEE, the Finnish firm Vaasa, as well as the UK division of the Eaton Electrical organization, are among the important “second-tier” suppliers based in Europe, with strong export potential. Their counterparts in North America include Basler, Beckwith, Cooper Power and NxtPhase, among others. In Asia, four Chinese manufacturers (including NARI, NAEF, Henan Xuji and Beijing Sifang) are now among the larger relay suppliers globally, and each is growing based on the huge and growing “home market” for protection and control of the expanding Chinese electric power grid. These are joined by some well-established Japanese relay manufacturers.
  • The American firm, Schweitzer Engineering Labs, remains as one of the fast growing companies in the worldwide protective relay industry through year-end 2006, although the company’s growth rate has declined from earlier levels as their installed base and revenues have grown. The company’s global market presence and expanded array of relay-based offerings continue strong into 2007.
  • On a global basis, electric utilities currently purchase about $750-$850 million in protective relaying equipment directly from manufacturers each year. As much as $120 million of this amount is electro-mechanical, still prevalent in Russia and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and continuing to account for another 10% to 20% or so of demand in most other world regions. North American utilities continue to account for about $30-35 million in annual purchases of EM relays.
  • The OEM community forms another major portion of the market for protective relays. OEMs integrate relay units into their end-use electrical equipment, such as switchgear and reclosers, and then sell the equipment to utilities and industrial and commercial customers. Industrial companies and other “bulk power” customers form the third large segment of the market for protective relays.
  • In total, global demand for protective relays now forms a market that exceeds US$1.5billion, and will approach $2 billion by 2009, according to Newton-Evans’ estimates. The market outlook for both 2007 and 2008 is in the range of $1.6 – $1.8 billion in annual shipments. Electric utilities, the focus of this four-volume Newton-Evans research series of market reports, form about 35% to 45% of the global market. Industrial and commercial enterprises make up 25% to 30% of the total, and OEMs/integrators make up the remaining 30% to 35% of the market.
The 2006-2008 relay study program has resulted in the publication of a series of four related reports produced over the last several months, concluding with the global market outlook and market assessment report published in February, 2007.The report series is geared to the strategic and market planning information needs of relay manufacturers, protection and control engineering consultants and utility protection and control departments. The volumes in the series include the North American Market Study, the International Market Study, Supplier Profiles report (containing summary or detailed profiles of 40 manufacturers) and the Global Market Assessment and Outlook.
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