Vestas, the Danish wind turbine company, announced this week that it has developed a new offshore wind turbine designed specifically for use in typhoon-prone areas. As the name implies, the company’s V236-15.0 MW will produce 15 megawatts of electricity — the highest output of any offshore wind turbine in the world. The next closest is the GE Haliade X-13 that will be installed in the UK’s Dogger Bank offshore wind project in the North Sea.
The Vestas V236-15.0 MW is a behemoth. It features three blades measuring 115.5 meters long for a total swept area of more than 43,000 square meters — that’s 10.6 acres or 4.3 hectares. Each turbine will be capable for creating 80 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity per year, enough to power 20,000 homes.
Henrik Andersen, CEO of Vestas, said in a press release, “Introducing our new offshore platform is a huge achievement for everyone at Vestas, as it marks a big leap forward in a very important journey. As a global renewables leader, every decision Vestas takes today must be in service of building scale for renewables in the future – only by doing this can we ensure a more sustainable future energy system. Offshore wind will play an integral role in the growth of wind energy and the V236-15.0 MW will be a driver in this development by lowering levelized cost of energy thus making our customers more competitive in offshore tenders going forward.”
That levelized cost of energy, referred to in the industry as LCOE, is important. For instance, according to Wind Power Monthly, using the new Vestas turbines can increase the annual energy production of a nominally 900 MW wind farm by 5% while using 34 fewer turbines. That, in turn, reduces the need for foundations and inter-platform cabling which can lower the cost of a project substantially.
Vestas says the V236 – 15 MW was developed in-house based on experience with its EnVentus onshore wind platform introduced in 2019 together with its real world experience with the more than 1200 offshore wind turbines it has installed over the past decade. It says the first of the new turbines will be installed for testing purposes in 2022 with series production scheduled to begin in 2024.
The new turbine features the latest Vestas “System 8000” control system first introduced with the EnVentus platform. The enhanced hydraulic individual pitch control system is load-based as it is in the EnVentus platform and features a battery backup system to support critical functions such as upwind yaw control during typhoon conditions with simultaneous grid failure.
What’s Under The Hood?
The Vestas V236-15 MW uses a permanent magnet generator, but that’s not the end of the story. The company opted not to use the rare earth element Dysprosium, which allows a generator to operate at much higher temperatures. But Dysprosium is costly and comes with supply chain issues so Neodymium is used instead. But how to manage the heat created during operation?
The generator is air cooled, but Vestas added an air-to-water heat exchanger, which in turn is connected to two passive cooling panels built into the top of the nacelle that surrounds the internal components of the turbine. Those are the devices that look like Mickey Mouse ears you see in the photo above.
And what of the two smaller enclosures attached to the sides of the main housing? Christian Gjerløv, head of offshore turbine development for Vestas, tells Wind Power Monthly, “The space inside each side compartment houses an uprated, modular and expandable power converter unit that was initially developed for the EnVentus platform. The twin-converter solution is an example of our strategy to create optimal platform synergies, including in the manufacturing footprint, by transplanting modular medium speed EnVentus onshore technologies into this new offshore platform, and vice versa. Also new is that the liquid immersed 66kV transformers, already standard fitting in the V164/V174 series, have been uprated and are now mounted at the main casting in front.”
In the highly competitive world of offshore wind, where Vestas, GE, Orsted, and Siemens Gamesa are the dominant companies, progress and development never cease. The V236-15 MW isn’t even in production yet and already the company is thinking about an up-rated 17 MW version sometime in the future. Less powerful turbines may also be appropriate for certain use cases.
Vestas CTO Anders Nielsen says, “The V236-15 MW is developed as a global product for industrialization and operation on a global scale. We are convinced that it is a well-positioned competitive product for these conditions, focused on maximum value creation for our clients. We further believe that the V236-13.6 MW could become an attractive offering in low wind Asian markets or, for instance, in meeting specific liberalized electricity market conditions as in California. There will also be future opportunities for the V174-9.5 MW, especially in conditions where a different product scale is required.”
He adds, “With the V236-15 MW, we have set a new industry benchmark for performance and for pursuing industrialization potential to the full. At the same time, we will expand the industrialization of turbine design through a modular approach, with scaling components for continued offshore technology cost reduction being a main driver. This approach will make this new Vestas turbine offering already highly competitive in offshore tenders this year, and it is a key building block in reaching a global offshore market leader position by 2025.”
Offshore wind is a huge industry and vital to decarbonizing the global economy. Each Vestas V236-15 MW eliminates 38,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which is equivalent to removing 25,000 internal combustion cars from the world’s roadways. Placing wind turbines out to sea where they are not visible from the shoreline eliminates many of the complaints one hears about renewable energy threatening farmers or requiring the clear cutting of forests. Winds over the ocean tend to be steadier and more predictable than winds on land, which leads to higher energy output over time compared to land based systems.
[Note: The author owns shares in Vestas because he chooses to support renewable energy initiatives but that does not mean you should do the same. He probably knows less about investing than you do and if you follow his advice you are a fool.]
Hat Tip to CleanTechnica reader No Planet B. Thanks, amigo.
Images courtesy of Vestas.