Monday, January 2, 2012

Size Does Matter — More Massive Offshore Wind Turbines for Europe

Scotland and 2B Energy aren’t the only ones in Europe making waves with massive off-shore wind turbines – electronics giant Siemens introduced its new SWT-6.0 turbine this week. The SWT-6.0 is a larger version of Siemens’ 6MW wind turbine with a diameter just shy of 400 feet and using a magnet-driven generator.

Most wind turbines currently in use are land-based, which are relatively easy to set up and maintain. However, since wind inland is relatively unpredictable, they usually generate no more than 2MW of power.

Ocean breezes are another matter; wind offshore is often strong and steady, which on the surface seems like a pretty good bet. The problems come while installing and maintaining large pieces of machinery in the hostile environment offshore. Siemens’ solution is use of a direct drive generator in order to reduce the number of parts (fewer things to break!) and lighter materials (easier to install).

Siemens cited one further advantage to having fewer parts – more room for the technicians who have to go out and maintain the turbine:

“The nacelle, or housing behind the rotor and blades, is particularly spacious and gives technicians easy access to important components.”

Siemens hopes to have up to 50 of its new turbines installed off the shores of Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and the U.K. over the next two years.

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