Offshore wind turbine giant MHI Vestas unveiled on Tuesday the world’s first commercially-available 10 megawatt (MW), marking the first time a “commercially-available” wind turbine has broken the double-digit barrier.
The offshore wind turbine capacity arms race has been driven into overdrive of late, with MHI Vestas breaking its own records, one after another, while GE Renewable Energy sits on the sidelines, safe in the knowledge that, when its 12 MW Haliade-X is installed in demonstration form sometime next year, it will have the world’s largest feet-wet offshore wind turbine.
MHI Vestas has been leading the way through 2018, however. The world’s most powerful currently operational wind turbines are the 8.8 MW v164 turbines installed at the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) in Aberdeen, Scotland, which was officially opened earlier this month. MHI Vestas has also been the owner of the world’s most powerful commercially available wind turbine thanks to its V164-9.5 MW turbines that passed their final certifications in June and have already been ordered and are expected to be installed by the end of 2019.
Speaking at the Global Wind Summit in Hamburg, Germany, on Tuesday, the company — a joint venture between Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Vestas Wind Systems A/S — made the next big step for wind turbine manufacturers, unveiling its V164-10.0 MW wind turbine, the industry’s first commercially available double-digit breaking wind turbine.
“What was unreachable before has become the new benchmark,” said MHI Vestas CEO, Philippe Kavafyan. “In launching the V164-10.0 MW today, MHI Vestas is proud to contribute this major milestone to the offshore wind industry. And it gives us the opportunity to pay tribute to all the wind industry pioneers who have led us to this historic, double-digit nominal capacity.”
The V164-10.0 MW turbine will boast a rotor diameter of 164 meters and turbine blades 80 meters in length — the equivalent of nine London double-decker buses laid end-to-end. The swept area of the turbine will come in at 21,124 m², larger than the London Eye, and the height from base to tip will come in at approximately 187 meters.
“At MHI Vestas, we are focused not on what others are doing, but being the best at what we do,” added MHI Vestas Chief Technology Officer, Torben Hvid Larsen. “The V164-10.0 MW turbine is the best proof point yet that we do not accept the limitations of conventional thinking and that we think beyond ourselves. We have embraced the challenge of transforming what is possible in our field.”
MHI Vestas’ decision to frame their news as both a world first and “a stunning announcement” is somewhat disingenuous, considering that GE Renewable Energy announced a double-digit wind turbine all the way back in March with its 12 MW Haliade-X. GE’s Haliade-X is expected to be feet wet sometime next year for demonstration purposes and could begin being shipped to wind farms as early as 2021 — the same timeframe as announced by MHI Vestas on Tuesday.
GE Renewable Energy declined to comment on its competitor’s announcement, which means that the likely difference between GE’s Haliade and the reason why MHI Vestas is content to call this a world first, is that its turbine is commercially available right now, already has its type certificate, and isn’t simply a planned outline for availability. Further, and maybe more importantly still, is that MHI Vestas’ V164-10.0 MW turbine is “simply” an expansion of the company’s existing V164-9.5 MW turbine, and as such is based on proven technology.
In other words, MHI Vestas has announced and made available a tested turbine that developers know will work, and they can buy it right now.
Regardless of the machinations inherent in marketing-speak, what we know for sure is that the next couple of years will see offshore wind OEMs battling it out for the mantle of world’s largest offshore wind turbine, which will only serve to boost the cost declines and increased efficiency of the sector overall.