- The demand for higher performance offshore wind turbines is seeing boundaries being pushed in technology and size.
- The last seven years have seen merger and acquisition activity in the industry as the big turbine manufacturers pool resources to build the biggest machines.
- Some of the biggest wind turbines are rated 9Mw plus.
- Rotor blade diameters can reach 180 Meters and weigh 33 tonnes.
In just under a decade we have seen the wind turbine industry mature. There have been a number of mergers, joint ventures, and acquisitions as competition drive demand for bigger and better-performing machines. While there may be bigger under a plan in the design rooms around the world, here are the top four in terms of performance output:
The MHI Vestas V164 9.5MW is the biggest wind turbine in production at this point in time. It was originally planned as the 7MW unit in 2011 but due to a major company restructure, Vestas teamed with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to create and produce the behemoth. The blades are 80 meters in length and weigh 33 tonnes apiece. The first offshore wind project to deploy the V164 is the Dong Energy’s Burbo Bank Extension in the Irish Sea.
The Adwen AD-180 came about from a merger between Gamesa and Areva – the Adwen AD-180 is setting a new benchmark for blade length at 88.4 meters. The partners drew on previous models like Areva’s Multibrid M5000-116, now rebranded as the Adwen AD5-116, and Gamesa’s 5MW prototype unit. The new 8MW turbine builds on the design of the Gamesa unit, especially with regard to the tube-shape medium-speed drivetrain.
The Adwen AD-180turbine has been selected for three of France’s first six offshore projects, all of around 500MW, for a healthy-looking order book. The merger activity has recently seen Adwen become part of the recently-formed Siemens-Gamesa Renewable Energy conglomerate.
The Siemens-Gamesa Renewable Energy SWT-8.0-154 started as a 6MW unit in 2011 with a rotor diameter of 120 meters. Siemens then upgraded the direct-drive offshore turbine for a power rating of 8MW and an extended rotor diameter of 154 meters. The 8 MW machine has been specified for several large developments, including the 1.2GW Hornsea project off England’s East Coast.
Goldwind a Chinese manufacturer, recently unveiled a prototype of their GW154/6.7MW model which will be installed in early 2018 of the Fujian and Guangdong coast of China. Goldwind is currently the largest wind turbine manufacturer globally (by installations – mainly onshore). The 6.7 Megawatt model will come with three rotor diameters for high, medium and low wind conditions and include Goldwind’s Permanent Magnet Direct Drive (PMDD) turbine technology.
Offshore energy production from wind power is now becoming more cost effective which is set to open up new markets along the African and South American coasts. It is only a matter of time before we see the 10 Megawatt plus turbine in operation. No doubt the engineers are already working on the prototypes.
Author: Bryan Groenendaal