Mammoth Offshore Turbine Gains a Megawatt

We've reported before on the trend to massively upsize offshore wind turbines, and the Vestas V164 was slated to become the first 7-megawatt giant in the next couple of years. Vestas now says the timeline is still intact to roll out the V164, but it won't be 7 MW. Instead, improvements to the control system will up the output to a staggering 8 MW. That means a single turbine would be capable of powering more than 2000 homes, and large offshore wind farms of them would have truly massive capacities.

Interestingly, this increase (nearly 15 percent) in capacity comes without increasing the turbine's dimensions.

"As we progressed in the technology it was clear that an 8-MW version of the turbine will offer lower cost of energy and at the same time keep the reliability and structural integrity of the turbine unchanged," Vestas's executive VP and chief technology officer Anders Vedel said in a press release.

With its massive 80-meter blades—substantially longer than the wingspan of a 747—the V164 was already plenty big. The company plans on testing the first of those blades in the first quarter of 2013 at a U.K. facility on the Isle of Wight. The drivetrain will be tested at a different facility in Denmark, and the first full turbine is expected to be installed in 2014 at Oesterild, Denmark.

Other companies, including Sinovel and GE, are working on or producing turbines in the 6-MW range, but no other offshore entry approaches the 8-MW giant. There is one huge onshore turbine, Enercon's 7.5 MW E126, but there is a general consensus that such sizes are best suited to spots away from land. With European offshore wind efforts flying ahead as usual, and hints that the United States might finally start building up an offshore wind industry, these massive hulks will likely be looming over the waves all around the world within a couple of years.

Image and video via Vestas

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