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Wind Industry Profile of

EWEA 2015: The Discovery of Slowness

Turbine manufacturers are currently coming together at the major European wind exhibition EWEA 2015. They have brought with them their new evolved turbines that are specifically suitable for sites with low and medium wind speeds.

Europe's largest wind energy trade fair, EWEA 2015, is currently taking place in Paris. Numerous turbine manufacturers are attending to present their new products. The trend is obvious: In Europe, most locations with peak wind speeds are already stocked with plants, so new wind farms will have to be dodged to areas where the wind blows less strong. The manufacturers respond to this development with corresponding turbines. Especially in Germany, it is now almost impossible to find a wind farm site where peak wind speeds are still achieved, so developers have be resort to forests or mountainous regions.

So it's no surprise, some German manufacturers were among the first to feature their optimized systems for low and medium wind locations in September at the Husum Wind. Senvion presented its optimized 3.4M140, which can generate up to 20% greater yields compared to the previous model 3.0M122. CEO Andreas Nauen said: “Wind energy is competitive – in the most diverse of places. By offering wind turbines with longer rotor blades that can be operated more profitably and cost-efficiently at great heights, Senvion is proving that even low-wind locations inland can be attractive."

The new turbine can optionally be built with a 110 or 130 m high tower, while the blades are 68 meters long. In addition, the company from Hamburg emphasizes that the turbine is one of the quietest on the market. The prototype will be built in 2017.

The new turbine from German company Nordex is due to arrive somewhat faster. As early as next year the N131/3300, which was developed specifically for the German market, will be fully available. Nordex also presented this turbine in Husum and praises the higher nominal output of ten percent compared to the N131/3000. They also emphasized the boosted yields of four to six percent depending on the location. With a rotor diameter of 131 meters and a tower height of either 134 or 164 meters this turbine appears to be slightly larger than that of Senvion, however, the emphasis is also placed on a very quiet operation.

Although German market leader ENERCON has canceled at short notice their appearance at the EWEA 2015 in the face of the terrorist attacks in Paris, they have introduced their new low-wind turbine models these days. This includes the E-141 EP4 which generates an annual yield of about 13,000 MWh with a nominal output of 4.2 MW even at relatively low wind locations with 6.5 m/s average wind speed. This makes it the most profitable turbine of wind class III in the world which will be equipped with the longest onshore rotor blades ever when it arrives on the market in 2017. "We will promote the development of technologies with a high potential for innovation to further reduce electricity generation costs while increasing plant efficiency in the future," says ENERCON Managing Director Nicole Fritsch-Nehring.

Picture: ENERCON

World market leader Vestas has also been working at its turbines in recent months and now presents an optimized version of its 3MW platform in different variations: “The upgraded 3 MW platform adds versatility by broadening the portfolio of turbine combinations”, says Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Anders Vedel. “The result is that customers can select the optimal turbine configuration with higher precision, boosting performance at each unique wind site and lowering the cost of energy. Standardised components deliver the reliability that customers expect from Vestas, while the added versatility allows for flexible site solutions”.

US General Electrics presents three new platforms in Paris. The recent merger with Alstom made sure to provide GE with new technology for offshore wind turbines. In addition, the company now hopes for a breakthrough on the European onshore market with the assistance of the French. “Our new 3 MW machines are built to address the complexities of European wind conditions,” said Anne McEntee, President & CEO of GE’s onshore wind business. In addition to improvements of the hard- and software of the existing platforms the further developments should provide up to 24 percent higher output than existing technology.

Gamesa on the other hand hasn't only set its sight on the European market with its new model, the G132-3.3MW turbine, but thinks globally: The Spanish company which has been successful mainly in Central and South America in recent years, in addition to its core European market wants to tackle  the Mexican, Canadian, Australian and South African markets. "A team of 50 engineers located all over the world is working on the development of this new turbine which will absorb over 150,000 engineering hours and 86 technological innovations patented by Gamesa", chief developer José Antonio Malumbres describes their sophisticated operations.

The result is an optimized turbine for sites with medium wind speeds. The rotor diameter is 132 m, while the capacity is 3,3MW. The tower height can be varied between 84 and 134 m. When the turbine arrives on the market in 2017, up to 50,000 people could be supplied with clean energy with a wind farm of 10 plants.

Katrin Radtke

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