Offshore wind: big is beautiful

Large offshore turbines have reached remarkable sizes.

MHI Vestas erected the first V164 prototype in the National Test Center for Large Turbines in Northern Denmark in 2014; in early 2016, two turbines were erected in Måde in Western Denmark; later in 2016, the first industrial units were installed at Burbo Bank, off the west coast of the United Kingdom; and subsequently serial deliveries to several offshore sites have been succeeded.

Starting from 8 MW, the V164 using permanent magnet generators from The Switch has lately been tuned to record breaking 9.5 MW. The V164 has set world record not only in size, but also by producing 216,000 kilowatts per day. This corresponds roughly to what 50 households use in total of electricity for a whole year.

Also, Denmark-based Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy is ready with its 8 MW offshore wind turbine, the D8, for two projects off the French coast, namely Dieppe-Le Tréport and Yeu-Noirmoutier, for a total of almost 1 GW. The direct drive wind turbine will replace Adwen’s AD8 model following Siemens Gamesa’s decision to focus its sales efforts on one 8 MW platform. As a result, the manufacturing of the AD8 will be discontinued while further developments of the technology will be part of the company’s product portfolio review.

During spring 2017, the Danish government has decided to expand the National Test Center for Large Turbines. In the future, there will be space for two more wind turbines with heights up to 330 meters. Compared with the highest natural point in Denmark, for example the Sky Mountain (Himmelbjerget) with a height of only 147 meters, the large turbines appear enormous.

With extensive experience, equipment, 31,000 skilled wind power employees, test facilities and the world’s best wind conditions for offshore wind turbines along the coasts of Denmark, the large OEMs have unique conditions to maintain global market leadership.

Managers of the large Danish-based OEMs are indicating that the world breaking record of 10 MW is just around the corner, and followers should look for Denmark for inspiration.

An upgrade from 8 to 9 and soon to 10 MW can at first glance appear as moderate. However, in the big picture, it is very important for utilities like DONG/Oersted, Vattenfall and others.

As an example, the scheduled DONG/Oersted’s project Hornsea 1 offshore wind farm of 1,200 MW may have been built using 150 units of 8 MW turbines or 133 units of 9 MW turbines.

Therefore, the utilities can save large costs by ordering larger wind turbines because at the same time they need to purchase fewer foundations, pull fewer cables and fly out to fewer turbines for maintenance. In offshore business, big is beautiful and the sky is still the limit.

At The Switch, we appreciate to participate in the challenging development of permanent magnet generators for the giants.

Also, we are happy serving our clients from the hub of the global wind power industry in Silkeborg/Denmark.

Peter Nyegaard Jensen, Head of Sales, The Switch, Denmark