Wind Energy Update: Pushing the Design Envelope:
the Emerging Reality of 10-20MW Offshore Wind Turbines
Wind Energy Update comment...as the offshore wind
sector grows so will the size of the turbines used to power its energy into
London, England September 30, 2011
Scott Macdonald reports according to the Offshore Wind Supply Chain Strategy
Report 2011 the average size of offshore wind turbines is set to grow from its
present 2 to 7MW capacity range to between 10 and 20MW in the next 10 to 15
Wind Energy Update writes... on the basis of a wide-ranging industry survey of
offshore wind turbine manufacturer OEMs the new report finds that 40 per cent of
respondents see 10 to 20MW as the standard size in future years, 35.6 per cent
sees it growing to between 8 and 10MW and a notable 6.7 per cent believe it will
go even larger beyond 20MW.
The report’s authors say that one of the main drivers behind the increase in
size is to improve OEMs economies of scale on offshore projects and reduce cost,
as mentioned by Wind Energy Update.
The ramp-up will bring a myriad of challenges for offshore component suppliers.
According to OEMs it will lead to the need for “compact and lighter designs” of
blades and towers, reliable electronic components and the location of
manufacturing plants closer to offshore wind farms.
One leading OEM said: “Components increasing in size is a natural development of
an immature industry. The real problem will be in the logistics and how to
transport extremely large components.”
Another told the report: “The coming 10-20MW turbines will be floating. This
means that the critical components will be blades, drive train and generator.
Less critical but still challenging will be a floating foundation.”
When Wind Energy Update asked which components would prove to be the most
difficult to scale up OEMs said rotor blades because they take a long time to
manufacture, towers because of the increased costs of raw materials, direct
drive because of the cost of copper and rare earth metals and bearings due to
technological constraints and a limited supply base.
One OEM said: “It’s rotor blades because of the logistical difficulties. There
will be a challenge in handling the blades which will be much bigger and
OEMs told the report’s authors that they were pushing the “design envelope” on
both blades and bearings to drive improved scale.
Indeed new designs, technologies and offshore innovation will be vital tools for
component manufacturers to embrace in both the present and the near future if
they want to gain offshore contracts from OEMs.
One of the main findings of Wind Energy Update's report was that OEMs wanted to
work closer with their component suppliers on design and innovation issues
including the sharing of conceptual ideas and data to shared testing.
The Wind Energy Update report highlights the case study of blade component
manufacturer LM Windpower and its partnership work with OEM Alstom. Both parties
are developing new 61.5m blades for use on a new 6MW turbine to be used on the
Thornton Bank offshore site in Belgium. More of these partnerships are likely to
follow in the years ahead.
To learn more about how to access a copy of the Offshore Wind Supply Chain
Strategies 2011 Report please go to the following link:
Do let me know what you think
Head of Reports Research
Wind Energy Update
+44 (0)20 7375 7580 | f +44 (0)20 7375 7576
Copyright© 2012-2013, 1EarthMedia. All rights reserved