Vestas launches first new platform in eight years

As early as this year, the Danish manufacturer will install its first modular onshore wind turbine — a model practically the size of an offshore unit.

Photo: Vestas

In March 2011, Vestas shook the industry with the announcement of the world's hitherto largest wind turbine – the V164-7.0MW. Thursday, the Danish wind turbine manufacturer is presenting an item of news that in many ways is almost equally groundbreaking. With the launch of the new platform, EnVentus, two new wind turbines rated at 5.6 MW and with rotor diameters of 150 and 162 meters are being sent out for serial production as early as next year – and this only initially involves onshore units.

The size of the new model is not the only leap forward. As EnergyWatch reported in early December and was the first to reveal, the new design will to a much higher degree make use of modularity.

It will increase standardization and reduce the number of components, both of which will drastically lower the turbine's costs. At the same time, it will make it easier to customize the machines to specific requirements and add possible variations to the platform. The manufacturer intends to increase the model's size over time and aims for it to replace the smaller 2 MW and 4 MW platforms.

"EnVentus is a great achievement for all of us at Vestas, and it will allow us to accommodate customers' more frequent need for customized solutions and the continuing aim of reducing the cost of energy. Our tireless focus on delivering the industry's leading earnings and profitability throughout recent years has provided us with the resources to develop a new platform built at our world-class research and development division," says Vestas Chief Executive Anders Runevad.

The sector's first generational shift

Runevad's subtle whistle to the rest of the industry also relates to the fact that, with this launch, Vestas is taking wide strides into the next generation of onshore wind turbines – notwithstanding the fact that German manufacturer Enercon already launched a 7.58 MW onshore wind turbine ten years ago. In recent years, producers have instead taken half steps with new models rating around 4.5 MW.

Another item at least equally spectacular to the size of the generator is the rotor hub, which covers an area of more than 20,000 m2 – a development underscoring the tendency of sharpening focus on optimizing energy generation. This applies particularly to mature markets featuring restrictions on both space and sites, where wind conditions are limited, or capacity expanded so far that optimizing generation in lower wind speeds has become an increasingly important aim.

The largest of the new wind turbines – the V162-5.6 – is thus intended for areas with low or medium wind speeds. Depending on each individual site, the model will also be practical under medium-high wind speeds, Vestas notes, just as the V150-5.6MW is also designed for more powerful winds. The current 4.2 MW wind turbine is also available with a rotor diameter of 150 meters, which is sold to gusty countries such as Sweden, Finland and Brazil.

Application as offshore wind turbine

That the new model is designed for mature markets is also implied by the noise factor of the new model not being louder than the existing 4 MW platform. The basic model has a decibel rating between 104-104.9, but low-noise variants rated near 98 dB are also in the works.

However, EnVentus is also meant for markets in which noise is not a factor. As was the case with the March 2011 launch, the new platform can also be used as an offshore wind turbine, the manufacturer informs. For instance, Danish renewable power developer European Energy told EnergyWatch, the company thinks it makes sense to deploy the new generation of onshore wind turbines in its domestic coastal offshore wind farms.

Vestas will initially need to install prototypes of its new machine and have the model certified. For the V150-5.6MW, this is expected to take place already in the second half of 2019 with the first serial production line starting up in middle of next year. At that time, the V162.5.6MW prototype is expected to be installed and then enter serial production later in 2020.

English Edit: Daniel Frank Christensen

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