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11/08/2012 09:20 AM     print story email story  

Siemens Takes ‘Next Big Step’ In Offshore Wind News

Last month, wind capacity in Europe crossed the 100 gigawatt (GW) threshold and that's just the beginning. Wind energy supplies about 7% of the EU's electricity, and that will rise dramatically as the massive offshore wind farms planned get built and connected to the grid.

Siemens, which recently decided to sell its solar thermal division and exit nuclear-related manufacturing, is betting on clean technologies such as smart grid and water, but especially wind.

The world's ninth biggest turbine manufacturer calls its mammoth 6 megawatt (MW) wind turbine, "The Next Big Step," even naming it as a new "species" - Turbina Sapiens!

Designed for the enormous offshore wind farms under construction in Europe and eventually elsewhere, just one 6 MW turbine provides electricity for 6000 European homes. When the turbine turns it has a swept area larger than 18,600 meters - about two-and-a-half soccer fields.

For years, wind turbines have been getting bigger and bigger, but Siemens is going beyond sheer size. Its 6 MW turbine is the lightest in its class at 350 tons.  It has half the components and fewer rotating parts, assuring it operates seamlessly in ferocious offshore winds.  Siemen's Direct Drive technology replaces the gear box - the component which most often breaks down. Rotor blades are cast in a one-step process and have no glued joints. And its "built-in brainpower" allows the turbine to automatically adjust to wind loads and monitor performance throughout day and night.

The combination of robustness and low weight significantly reduces infrastructure, installation and service costs, and boosts lifetime energy output and profitability, the company says, and will help lower the cost of electricity from offshore wind.

In the US, Deepwater Wind is working on permits for an offshore wind farm off Rhode Island, but first it would complete a demonstration project off nearby Block Island. That 30 MW project would consist of just five enormous 6 MW turbines made by Siemens.

Early this year, the world's largest offshore wind farm came online in the UK. Dong Energy, the developer, is testing Siemen's 6 MW turbine and signed onto using 300 of them (1,800 MW) for wind farms planned off the British coast between 2014 and 2017.

Siemens installed the world's first offshore wind farm in 1991 with Dong Energy, and has since installed more than 900 offshore wind turbines producing over 2 GW of energy in European waters. It has orders in hand for double that amount.

Watch this video to see how Siemens is positioning Turbina Sapiens:

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