GLOBAL WIND SUMMIT, HAMBURG
Wind turbine manufacturer Senvion is not the biggest player in the market. However at the Global Wind Summit taking place in Hamburg this year – the company's home ground – the company has opted to invest in the largest share of MW.
Size will play a critical role for Senvion in the coming years, says the company. Last year, it announced that its upcoming large offshore wind turbines will exceed 10 MW. Since then, the company has submitted patent applications for turbines rated 12 MW or more.
According to announcements from the company's technical director, Servet Sert, the company's R&D department is working at full speed to achieve the 12 MW target.
"We can now see that the prices on offshore wind are beginning to inch closer to what we can see on onshore wind a few years ago, and new markets are opening up. It is a reliable and energy efficient form that shows more and more promising potential. We know the challenges in achieving success with offshore wind turbines, whether that is technical in the form of seabeds, wind strength or local production requirements. But these are challenges we can handle, and I can see our upcoming turbines will reach 12MW when they are presented. It will be a highly cost-effective wind turbine, which will likely also be developed to be able to yield even more," says Sert, who attended the Global Wind Summit in Hamburg to present the company's development of the upcoming wind turbine.
Sert will not put a date on when the turbine will be ready. Previous rumors that the turbine could run up to 16 MW are also being met with "no comments."
Previously, Senion announced that the development project concerned a turbine of "10 MW or more." However, in the documents published earlier this year, it emerged that the long term goal is to reach up to 14-16 MW in offshore wind turbine capacity.
The largest turbine currently on the market is MHI Vestas' V164, which was presented in a 10 MW version Tuesday.
According to Sert, large turbines are critical for maintaining downward pressure on offshore wind power prices.
"There has been speculation that 13 - 15 MW turbine will ensure the success of the for the zero-subsidy bid we saw in Germany. My perspective is that we may not need to reach all the way up to that turbine size. With the development we see in costs at the moment, and with a sharp focus on turbine efficiency, I would say that 10-12 MW turbines can create the necessary foundation for the low bid in Germany," says Sert to EnergyWatch.
Bigger isn't always better
However, size is not the most important factor across all aspects of the wind industry. While the big turbines are effective in the North Sea and the Atlantic coast, they risk being ineffective in inverse proportion in areas with lower wind speeds, warns Sert.
"In the industry, we have aimed to lower costs for offshore wind by 40 - 50 percent. This is a critical breakthrough and has contributed to the fact that new markets are now opening up. However, with the new markets there are also more differentiated needs for turbines. Large turbines are not necessarily a requirement for new markets, in which there may be more interest in starting with a well-known technolgy. Wind conditions also factor in, and it remains an open question as to how effectively a 12 MW or larger turbine can be utilized in areas with low wind speeds, for example in India."
Senvion's upcoming offshore wind turbines are being developed in collaboration with 150 participants from nine countries. This includes research institutes, such as the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Dutch energy research center ECN and German utility EnBW which were among the winners in the latest German tender with a zero subsidy bid on the 900 MW He Dreiht project.
"For a company of our size it is critical to enter partnerships as the development of a 12 MW platform is costly. Therefore, we are working closely with suppliers and research institutes with the aim of reducing costs." explains Sert.
Under the company's former title RePower, Senvion launched its 6MW platform for offshore wind back in 2009.
English Edit: Lena Rutkowski