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Growth proves big is not always best

Manufacturers continue to develop turbines to meet the growing need of the small wind market

In the wind industry it appears that the biggest driver is to make everything bigger and more powerful. But that growing drive to try and produce the first 10MW turbine belies the fact that the majority of wind turbines being installed are in the 1-3MW range, and all the major manufacturers are continuing to develop models to satisfy the crucial market.

The V1001.8MW turbine from Verstas is a perfect example of this. The turbine is designed for high energy production from low wind sites, with a greater rotor diameter that enables maximum output at low wind speeds. Being classified as IEC S means that it is suited for IEC IIIA average and IEC IIA extreme wind conditions.

Designed, tested and manufactured for quality, it claims to make even the lowest wind speed sites commercially viable. The proof comes with orders and in this department the turbine is off to a solid start. Vestas has received a 202MW order from E.ON Climate & Renewables North America for 112 V100-1.8 MW turbines for a wind-energy project in the USA.

The project’s name and specific location will be disclosed at a later date. The contract includes delivery and commissioning along with a five-year service and maintenance agreement. Delivery is scheduled for the first half of 2012 and commissioning is

expected in mid-2012.

“We are excited to again work with one of the leading wind-power operators in the world to move this project forward,” Martha Wyrsch, president of Vestas-American Wind Technology, says. “E.ON chose a turbine that is specifically designed to capture the lower wind speeds of this area.”

Once finished, the project will provide enough electricity to power more than 60,000 American homes in a year. It also will create construction and turbine-maintenance jobs. Meanwhile GE unveiled its latest wind turbine technology, the 1.6-100, at the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) Wind power 2011 Conference & Exhibition earlier this year.

GE has already secured nearly 630MW of commitments for the evolutionary 1.6-100, which has been designed for increased performance in areas with lower wind resources. The 1.6-100 machine combines the proven performance of GE’s 1.5-MW wind turbine series, known as the industry workhorse, with certified components from the advanced technology of its 2.5-100 wind turbine. With blades that extend 100 metres and a height of 33 stories, the 1.6-100 has the ability to capture additional energy, making it well suited to a variety of wind farm locations.

“This latest evolution of our wind turbine technology is designed to meet the growing requirements of our customers for greater efficiency, reliability and output from a megawattclass wind turbine,” said Victor Abate, vice president-renewable energy for GE Power & Water. “By increasing the rotor diameter on the 1.6, our technology now offers customers the highest capacity factor in its class.”

The 1.6-100 wind turbine offers a 47 percent increase in swept area over previous models, resulting in a 19 percent increase in annual energy production at 7.5 meters per second. This allows for the turbine to deliver IEC Type Class II performance while operating in a Type Class III (low wind) environment. GE has been operating a prototype 1.6-100 wind turbine at its Tehachapi, Calif., site since February of this year.

GE’s latest wind turbine technology already has been chosen for multiple projects in the United States and in Latin America. Invenergy, the largest independent wind power generation company in the United States, has initially made commitments for 233 of the 1.6-100 wind turbines for three of their projects in the Midwest United States. This will provide 372.8 MW of power to the U.S. grid by 2012. In addition, three Brazilian companies have selected the 1.6-100 for 256 megawatts of projects in the country.

GE will provide 106 wind turbines to projects developed by Serveng Civilsan, 36 wind turbines to projects developed by Bioenergy and 18 wind turbines to projects developed by Oleoplan for a total of 160 turbines to be delivered in 2012. GE and Wind Capital Group have inked deals for 228 wind turbines and the accompanying operations and maintenance services for projects in Oklahoma and Kansas. This pair of projects will provide more than 350 megawatts of reliable, clean renewable energy for the Midwestern United States and create jobs and economic stimulus for local landowners and surrounding communities.

GE will supply 94 of its 1.6-100 wind turbines for the Osage project in Oklahoma, which will provide power to Associated Electric CoOps (AECI), and 134 1.5-82.5 wind turbines for the Post Rock project in Kansas, which will supply power to Westar. The GE wind turbines for both projects are scheduled for delivery in the first half of 2012. The GE 1.5-82.5 wind turbines for the Post Rock project in Kansas are members of GE’s family of 1.5 machines, the most widely deployed megawatt class wind turbine in the wind industry with more than 16,500 installed worldwide.

Currently, the first wind farm with Enercon wind turbines is being built up on Sardinia. The operator of this considerable project with a total of 69 x E-70/2.3 MW Enercon turbines is GeoPower Sardegna. Once completed, an annual volume of approx. 175,000 tons of CO2 is expected to be saved.

Cork oak forests, granite quarries and rocky cliffs characterise the landscape around the municipalities of Budduso and Ala dei Sardiin the province of Olbia-Tempio on Sardinia. Budduso is especially famous for its outstanding wood carvings. But aloft an altitude of 700 and 1000 metres, strong winds guarantee an excellent wind potential, according to Falck Renewables. This is an ideal pre-requisite to install a wind farm on the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. After intense preparation, the construction installation of the first turbines was initiated on 12th May 2010.

According to Falck, Ala dei Sardi is one of the best sites in Italy for a wind project. Operator of the new ‘Budduso – Ala dei Sardi’ wind farm is GeoPower Sardegna, a subsidiary of Falck Renewables. Falck Renewables already installed the Boyndie Airfield as well as the Ben Aketil wind farm project and is once again relying on Enercon turbines for this project in Italy. For Enercon this is the first wind farm on Sardinia.

In total 69 x E-70/2.3 MW are to be installed in three different installation phases. The first 13 turbines have already been installed since the end of August last year. The second construction phase with 28 turbines was completed in February. “Completion of the third construction phase, also with 28 turbines, is scheduled for 2011," explained Alessandra Lemma, Enercon sales manager from the Italian Sales office.

Prior to construction, the municipalities of Budduso and Ala dei Sardihad already granted the project planners construction rights as well as the guarantee to access the site for 25 years. Construction of the access roads began in August 2009. Wind energy, especially in rural communities, offers new opportunities for local companies. During the construction phase of the turbines, they get involved as far as possible. The wind farm is scheduled to be connected to the grid next year. “There are no particular challenges which could delay the construction,” says Servando Estrade, the construction engineer in charge.

From the harbour in Oristano, the 63m long steel towers are transported across the island by heavy load trucks up to the plateau. Once connected to the grid, the operators expect, with a total rated power of 158.7MW, to generate an annual output of 300 GWh of regenerative electricity. 175,000 tons of CO2-emissions are expected to be avoided. Although negative headlines concerning Italy’s remuneration system for renewable energies had been released in the middle of the year, financing for this large-scale project was achieved in July.

In Italy, electricity producers and importers are obliged to prove that a portion of their electricity is produced by renewable energy sources. Therefore green certificates (Certificati Verdi) can be purchased in order to fulfil these requirements. Any superfluous certificates can later be sold back to the GSE (Gestore Servizi Energetici, an entity of the Ministry for Economy and Finance in charge of promoting the development of renewable energies in Italy).

At the time, the public debate concerning the abolition of the GSE's obligation to take back these certificates could have jeopardised the financing of new projects. Despite this critical phase, Falck Renewables was able to convince the bank of the project’s reliability and credit worthiness due to the choice of a profitable location, combined with the most suitable turbine selection.

Another company busy in this area is Germany-based Siemens. Siemens Energy has received an order to deliver 63 of its SWT-2.3-101 wind turbines for five wind power plants in Brazil. The wind turbines have a rating of 2.3MW and a rotor diameter of 101m. The purchaser is the utility Tractebel Energia, headquartered in Florianópolis.

After commissioning in late 2012, the combined capacity of the five projects will be 145MW. Four of the wind power plants are located in the state of Ceará and one in Piauí in north-eastern Brazil.

"This is the third order in the last six months Siemens has received for wind turbines from Brazil," said Jens-Peter Saul, CEO of the Siemens Wind Power Business Unit. "This demonstrates the confidence our customers have in our technology and in our commitment to a successful internationalisation strategy."

In Latin America, Brazil is considered to be a key wind market. Experts estimate that up to five gigawatts of wind power will be installed by 2015. Internationalisation is a key pillar of Siemens' strategy in the wind business. In addition to opening two new factories in the US and China at the end of 2010, the company has also announced plans for new factories or the extension of supply chain management in Canada, the United Kingdom, India, Russia and Brazil.