As the renewables sector provides a bigger contribution to the generation of power, wind turbine design and manufacture is having to modify in various ways such as cost and size to meet industry needs.
None are more likely to make a stir than a new wind turbine design unveiled by General Electric (GE), notable for its huge size. The Halidade-X turbine not only dwarfs traditional turbines in size, but in how much output they can produce. It's believed that the design will generate 45 per cent more energy than even the largest turbine design currently available.
It's claimed that each turbine will generate 67GWhr of energy per year – enough to power 16,000 European homes with typical energy usage. The first deployment could be as soon as 2021, with General Electric planning to invest £400 million in deploying and developing the turbine over the next three to five years.
The move towards using large turbines, capable of generating huge amounts of energy, is transforming the wind renewables market, as energy requirements can be met with fewer turbines needed. The cost per unit is lower as there is less capital expenditure required on construction and materials, however it also reduces the risk involved in making and transporting elements of the turbines, as well as consolidating maintenance into fewer turbines, making for a simpler job.
According to The Engineer, Jérôme Pécresse, President and CEO of GE Renewable Energy, believes the future for the sector will see exponential growth: “The renewables industry took more than 20 years to install the first 17GW of offshore wind. Today, the industry forecasts that it will install more than 90GW over the next 12 years. The Haliade-X shows GE’s commitment to the offshore wind segment and will set a new benchmark for cost of electricity, thus driving more offshore growth.”
To understand the scale of these turbines is quite the undertaking, but if 260m above sea level doesn't mean much to you, compare it to some of the world's most notable landmarks. The Statue of Liberty, Big Ben and the London Eye all pale in comparison, while the Halidade-X is just a whisker short of sizeable structures such as the Chrysler Building and the Eiffel Tower. The diameter of the rotor blades is the same height as the Golden Gate Bridge sits above the water, while the surface of the blade sweep is the same as seven American football fields.
These blades are manufactured by Danish blade specialist LM Wind Power, who were bought by General Electric back in 2016 and are operational in Europe, Asia and North and South America.
However, it's not just in size that this turbine is a development – the capacity of the turbine is also important. Indicating what fraction of the capacity can be expected at average wind speeds, this turbine is five to seven points ahead of the industry standard, meaning that it will produce more energy per megawatt and giving consumers “significant returns”. This value is mirrored across all stages of the production, from manufacturing to installation and then in maintenance.
If you are undertaking work in the offshore wind and renewables sector, contact us today to discuss your GWO Basic safety training requirements.