The shadow of a turbine from a wind farm is seen on a field in Brandenburg, Germany. As technology develops, the size of wind turbines is increasing.
Patrick Pleul | picture alliance | Getty Images
Vestas has announced plans to install a prototype of its 15 megawatt offshore wind turbine at a facility in Denmark.
In a statement, the company said the prototype, known as V236-15 MW, would be installed in the second half of 2022 at a test center in Western Jutland, Denmark. It is expected to start generating electricity in the fourth quarter of 2022.
The scale of the V236-15 MW is considerable. According to Vestas, it will stand 280-meters tall, with prototype blades measuring 115.5 meters in length. The prototype will be installed onshore in order to make access easier when it comes to testing.
The turbine’s production output is expected to be 80 gigawatt hours a year. Vestas said this would be able to power roughly 20,000 European households, displacing over 38,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide in the process.
While Vestas claims its prototype “will be the tallest and most powerful wind turbine in the world once installed,” other companies are also developing their own massive turbines.
In August, MingYang Smart Energy released details of a huge new offshore wind turbine. Dubbed the MySE 16.0-242, MingYang’s turbine will have a height of 264 meters, a rotor diameter of 242 meters and a blade length of 118 meters. Its capacity will be 16 MW.
The Chinese company is aiming to install a prototype in 2023 before starting commercial production the year after.
Meanwhile, at the beginning of October, GE Renewable Energy said its Haliade-X prototype, which has been installed in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, had started to operate at 14 MW.
“The ability to produce more power from a single turbine means fewer turbines need to be installed at each wind farm,” the company said at the time. “In addition to less capital expenditure, this also simplifies operations and maintenance.”
The development of huge wind turbines has generated excitement in some quarters, but there are undoubtedly challenges too.
According to a recent report from industry body WindEurope, European ports will require new infrastructure and significant investment over the next few years to cope with the growth of the region’s offshore wind sector and its turbines.
In its report, published in May, the Brussels-based organization said Europe’s ports would have to invest 6.5 billion euros (around $7.54 billion) by 2030 in order to support the expansion of offshore wind.
Among other things, the report addressed the new reality of bigger turbines and the effect it could have in relation to ports and infrastructure.
“Upgraded or entirely new facilities are needed to host larger turbines and a larger market,” it said.
“They will need to cater for operating and maintaining of a larger fleet (including training facilities), for upcoming decommissioning projects and to host new manufacturing centres for bottom-fixed and floating offshore wind.”
Further to this, ports would need to “expand their land, reinforce quays, enhance their deep-sea harbours and carry out other civil works.”