Spain

Spain

Close up - Gamesa enters offshore with 5MW design

SPAIN: Just over three years since the collapse of a potential offshore tie-up with turbine manufacturer Bard, Gamesa has officially launched its first offshore turbine - the G128 5MW.

  • The blades are manufactured at Gamesa's plant in Navarre

    The blades are manufactured at Gamesa's plant in Navarre

  • The blades are 62.5 metres long

    The blades are 62.5 metres long

  • Compared to the 4.5MW blade the 5MW version is strengthened to deal with higher loads

    Compared to the 4.5MW blade the 5MW version is strengthened to deal with higher loads

  • The turbine was officially launched by Spanish minister for industry and energy Jose Manuel Soria

    The turbine was officially launched by Spanish minister for industry and energy Jose Manuel Soria

  • The turbine is being tested with a view to being validated in March

    The turbine is being tested with a view to being validated in March

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The machine, which has been installed at Arinaga Quay, Gran Canaria, is largely based on the 4.5MW design the company unveiled in April 2010. A near-shore turbine to be installed in up to 35-metres of water, Gamesa said it expects it to be certified in March.

In anticipation of this, the company is looking at three possible test sites for the turbine in the UK and Belgium.

Gamesa's marketing strategy for the G128 5MW is likely to be built around a lower cost of energy and greater availability than compared with other likely competitors. In terms of the design, the company is highlighting a number of major components that will help reduce CoE.

These are its "multismart" nacelle, with a top head mass of 270 tonnes (including transformer, drive train, and converters), imposing less load on the rest of the structure and the use of a monopile in deeper water than normal. The drive train features a two-bearing main shaft, semi-integrated into a two-stage gearbox with the output shaft set at medium speed.

Other innovations include a self-mounting crane located on the nacelle that can assemble and dissemble the main module components, also reducing O&M costs. There is individual pitch control that it said can reduce loads by as much as 30%.

Speaking about the decision to enter the offshore market with a 5MW turbine Gamesa executive chairman Ignacio Martin was bullish. He said the machine's lightness, and the fact it could use a monopile in depths of up to 35-metres, gave it a point of difference.

Possibly referencing competitors like Alstom who are working on turbines in the 6-8MW range, he added: "You can't expect to do a 6MW turbine when you haven't done 5MW."

Martin also said the company was in the early stages of developing the 7-8MW 'G14X' turbine that was originally announced in 2010. Little was revealed about the machine other than the company hoped to build the first prototype by 2017 and that it may have modular blades.

Looking ahead, Martin appears to be taking a cautious approach to the offshore market where 2017 seems to be a key date in Gamesa's thinking. By this point the market should be ready for the company's 7-8MW machine even if Martin is unsure how large the demand will be. Unsurprisingly he believes the main offshore markets will be the UK and Germany, with others including Finland, Sweden, Belgium and, the Netherlands. Notably he does not include France, despite the country's substantial plans for the offshore market.

He said: "For 2017-18 we're looking at a European offshore market of 4GW. If you compare analyst data, theirs is much larger than our forecasts but we want to work within a safe scenario. I don't think optimism is going to help us."

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