The largest offshore wind turbine on the planet is now spinning off of the coast of Belgium at the Belwind site. Alstom produced the 6-megawatt Haliade turbine and installed it off of the Ostend harbor last weekend.
The blades stretch out more than 73 meters and the turbine towers more than 100 meters above sea level. The turbine does not have a gearbox but instead uses a permanent-magnet generator. Fewer mechanical parts means less maintenance and higher reliability, according to Alstom.
The size and mechanical configuration will allow the turbine to produce about 15 percent more power than existing offshore turbines and can supply electricity to about 5000 households.
The Haliade 150 was initially tested at Le Carnet site in France. Alstom is now building factories to construct the six-megawatt turbines on a commercial scale.
As Alstom claims the largest offshore wind turbine for the time being, the title of world’s largest offshore wind farm currently goes to the London Array off the coast of Kent. It boasts 630 megawatts and can power half a million homes.
Offshore wind farms may seem to be constantly vying for bigger and better, but some projects are seeing setbacks. One wind farm, whose turbines would have sat atop towers twice as tall as Alstom’s Haliade 150 and produced nearly twice as much energy as the London Array, has been shelved.
German energy giant RWE was planning the mega wind farm, the Atlantic Array, off the Bristol Channel in the United Kingdom. RWE Innogy’s director of offshore wind, in a press release Paul Cowling said the project is cancelled because of technological challenges and market conditions.
The latter may have been a larger factor, according to the BBC. Sources told the BBC said the project was having trouble getting financing. The project would have reportedly cost about £4 billion ($6.5 billion). There was also some environmental opposition since it would have sat just 13.5 kilometers from a nature reserve.
RWE said that the technical challenges included “substantially deeper water” than initially thought and adverse seabed conditions. With the Atlantic Array a no-go, RWE is focusing on completing the world’s second largest offshore wind farm: a 576-megawatt array known as Gwynt-Y-Mor off the northern coast of Wales.
UPDATE (December 2, 2013):
Alstom's Haliade 150 may hold the title of largest wind turbine, but that claim is likely short lived. There are various other 6-MW offshore turbines coming to market. “But at the moment our turbine installed at Belwind site is the biggest and the most efficient installed offshore, because of the size of its rotor,” says Stephanie Roux, spokesperson for Alstom Renewable Power. Most other offshore turbines of similar size are prototypes or not operating at full commercial capacity, according to Alstom. But a 7 MW offshore wind turbine is already being tested In Scotland.