Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) has conditionally received an order for 100 units of its newly launched SG 14-222 DD offshore wind turbine model—one of the largest wind turbine models ever introduced to date. The 14-MW units are to be installed at innogy’s proposed 1.4-GW Sofia Offshore Wind Farm in the UK starting in 2024.
Though the order is conditional on a final investment decision by innogy for the massive UK wind farm, it is another triumph for SGRE, which only launched the SG 14-222 DD offshore wind turbine model on May 19. On May 26, SGRE announced it would conditionally supply the turbine model to Dominion Energy’s 2.6-GW Virginia Offshore Wind (VOW) commercial project, installations that are expected to be completed by 2026.
The SG 14-222 DD is a 14-MW offshore direct drive (DD) turbine, a machine that uses new SGRE 108-meters (m)-long B108 blades. “Nearly 50 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty, each 108-m-long IntegralBlade is cast in one piece using patented Siemens Gamesa blade technologies,” SGRE said. The turbine has a 222-m rotor diameter, and a wind swept area of an astounding 39,000 square meters—an area equivalent to about six square Eastern U.S. city blocks, or about seven NFL football fields.
SGRE says, however, that the SG 14-222 DD can also be boosted to 15 MW using a specialized “Power Boost” function. The company plans to have a prototype ready by 2021, and it envisions the machine could be commercially available in 2024. Citing the recent orders, it also appears confident the new model will have a market.
Compared to SGRE’s next largest model—the SG 11.0-200 DD offshore wind turbine, rated at 11 MW with a 200-m rotor—the SG 14-222 DD provides an increase of more than 25% in annual energy production. “Furthermore, the new offshore turbine features a comparatively low nacelle weight at 500 metric tons. This enables Siemens Gamesa to safely utilize an optimized tower and foundation substructure compared to a heavier nacelle, reducing costs per turbine by minimizing sourced materials and transportation expenses,” it said.
Pipeline of Mammoth Offshore Wind Farms
According to innogy, if built, the Sofia Offshore Wind Farm will be located 195 kilometers off the northeast coast of the UK, on the shallow area of the central North Sea known as Dogger Bank. “The 593 [square kilometer] offshore wind park will be roughly the same size as the Isle of Man. Its sheer scale and size offer significant economic opportunities for the UK with potential supply chain benefits, infrastructure and associated jobs and contracts,” SGRE said.
Dominion announced plans to build the mammoth VOW project in September 2019, shortly after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued an executive order calling for 2.5 GW of offshore wind by 2026. The proposed Dominion Virginia Offshore Wind project will expand on knowledge gained from Dominion’s 12-MW Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project, which will feature two SGRE 6-MW SWT-6.0-154 wind turbines when it comes online by the end of this year, SGRE said. The CVOW project, which will become the first offshore wind project to be built in federal waters, is sited 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach in a 2,135-acre research lease area near the proposed 2.6-GW project site.
The market for offshore wind in the U.S. has lagged that of Europe, but is expected to ramp up over the next few years.
SGRE, a Spain-headquartered business that says it has the world’s largest installed offshore base and the largest order book, with more than a 70% share of the lucrative offshore wind market. Among world-class projects that feature SGRE turbines is the 1.2-GW Hornsea 1 located off the UK coast. Completed in October 2019, that 174-turbine project is currently the world’s largest offshore wind project. It is nearly double the capacity of the world’s second-largest offshore wind farm, Walney Extension, a 659-MW project that Ørsted completed in June 2018 in the Irish Sea that features 40 MHI Vestas 8.25-MW turbines and 47 Siemens Gamesa 7-MW turbines.
According to the Global Wind Energy Council’s (GWEC’s) Market Intelligence arm, offshore wind is playing an increasingly important role in driving global wind installations. In 2019, the sector installed a record 6.1 GW (2.3 GW was in China alone), accounting for a record share of 10% of new installations for that year. Total offshore wind cumulative capacity has now passed 29 GW, representing about 4.5% of total cumulative wind capacity.
Stiff Competition from 12-MW GE Haliade-X
Though the GWEC suggested in its March 2020–released outlook that the global wind sector may suffer an impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, it remains optimistic about a surge in new wind installations, both onshore and offshore. It points specifically to falling levelized costs of electricity (LCOE) for wind. Dramatic LCOE reductions over the past five years—of more than 50% for both onshore and offshore wind—have “fundamentally changed its competitive position and put the industry in a strong position to carry out the energy transition,” it says. Low prices, however, are now “increasing cost pressures on wind industry actors across the value chain, from power producers to OEMs to service providers.” The squeeze has resulted in rapid supply side consolidation. In 2019, the industry which once had more than 100 turbine manufacturers now has 37 players, and of these, the top five turbine suppliers supply two-thirds of market share.
According to a February BloombergNEF (BNEF) report, SGRE last year retained the number one position in the offshore wind market after more than doubling its installations compared with 2018. While SGRE’s 14-MW offshore wind turbine is poised to be one of the most powerful wind turbines in the world, it faces stiff competition from GE Renewable Energy’s Haliade-X turbine. GE has accelerated commercial launch of the 12-MW machine by 2021, and it has has already been selected as preferred the wind turbine for the 120-MW Skip Jack and 1,100-MW Ocean Wind projects in the U.S., and the 3,600-MW Dogger Bank offshore windfarm in the UK.
On June 18, GE said that its Haliade-X prototype, which it is testing in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, received a provisional type certificates from DNV-GL, the world’s largest independent certification body. “This certification demonstrates GE’s Haliade-X prototype has the highest safety and quality standards, and provides evidence that its design is on-track to meet the full type certification requirements,” GE explained. Testing activities of the Haliade-X’s 107-m-long blade is currently underway at the UK’s Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult in Blyth, as well as at Boston’s Wind Technology Testing Center in the U.S., it noted. For now, it plans to begin Haliade-X serial production at GE’s Saint-Nazaire factory in France during the second half of 2021.
Another notable large turbine model vying for market share is MHI Vestas’ V164-9.5 MW turbine. On May 28, MHI Vestas reported that the first of 77 V164-9.5 MW turbines had been installed at the Borssele III/IV wind project in the Dutch North Sea. Meanwhile, three smaller 8.4-MW versions of the V164 installed atop Principle Power’s semi-submersible WindFloat Foundation last month sailed to the site of the 25-MW WindFloat Atlantic project, one of the world’s largest floating offshore wind farms. This year, MHI Vestas also bagged preferred supplier contracts three two other floating projects. Two are in France: the 24-MW Groix & Belle Ile, and the 30-MW Eoliennes Flottantes du Golfe du Lion (EFGL). Both are scheduled for installation in 2022. The third is the 50-MW Kincardine floating project in Scotland. Installation on that project is slated to begin later this year.