Foreseen inability of Vestas, Siemens Gamesa and GE to meet growth in demand for ultralarge-scale designs as the EU's multi-hundred gigawatt build-out gathers pace could open the door to Sino turbine makers Goldwind, Mingyang and CSSC Haizhuang's record-stretching super-models, writes Victoria Maguire Toft
‘Bigger is better’ might still – for the time being – win the offshore wind scale-up debate, but what crosscurrents will be woven into the economics of these ultralarge 15MW-plus machines as the roll-out into very different wind resources around the world?
Currently, the global offshore wind project pipeline is heavily weighted in favor of the gustiest International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 1 sites averaging speeds of 10 meters per second (m/s).
Western offshore wind turbine manufacturers Vestas, Siemens Gamesa and GE have historically been focused on first-wave offshore wind markets in North Europe – the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany – where rich, steady high wind speeds are the norm, engineering their top models around boundary-pushing drivetrains and generators.
However, as they have been scoping out emerging markets in Asia Pacific these three OEMs have also had to ensure that their latest offshore platforms – the Vestas V236, Siemens Gamesa SG14/15 and GE Haliade-X – are both typhoon-proof and yet attuned to the other main condition in these markets. – lower wind speeds around 7-8m/s
Chinese turbine manufacturers, at the same time, are currently pursuing development of large generator capacities with supersize rotors, Goldwind and Mingyang both have 16MW models, and CSSC Haizhuang is testing its record-setting 18MW H260. Where certifying such turbines, designed for medium wind speeds, as battle-ready for typhoons was key, this might now be changing as they size up European market potential.
For a prime example, look no further than Mingyang – already the first Chinese turbine market with European orders via the 30MW Taranto off Italy and the 40MW TwinHub floating project off the UK – recently announced its marquis turbine, the 16.X, had been tailored for IEC1 class wind speeds with a heavy-load-bearing 242-meter-diameter rotor configuration, and it is looking beyond 18MW designs with 140-metre-long blades.
This article was first published in Aegir Insights' intelligence newsletter, Beaufort.
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