11th January 2023
New record for world's most powerful wind turbine
A company in China has revealed plans for a "super giant" wind turbine with 260-metre-diameter rotor and power rating of 18 megawatts (MW).
Until now, the world record for the most powerful wind turbine stood at 16 MW, achieved by MingYang Smart Energy and its MySE 16.0-242, which has a rotor diameter of 242 metres (794 ft). This model had overtaken the already monstrous size of General Electric's Haliade-X, which debuted at 12 MW in 2019 and got uprated to 14 MW in 2021.
Now, a subsidiary of the China State Shipbuilding Corp. (CSSC) has unveiled plans for an even larger and more powerful wind turbine – the H260-18MW – featuring a massive 18 MW in a rotor diameter of 260 metres. To put that in perspective, its rotor diameter alone is equal to the height of the 48-storey Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco, and more than twice the height of the London Eye. CSSC Haizhuang presented its next generation model during a ceremony in Dongying, Shandong province, on the east coast of China.
"The H260-18MW turbine... will make a great contribution to the improvement of capacity and efficiency, as well as reducing the LCOE [levelised cost of energy] of offshore wind farms, and has market prospects in high-speed wind and deep-sea areas," said a company spokesperson. The prototype has "demonstrated that [the manufacturer] has mastered the core technologies of high-rating offshore wind turbines and key components, leading the global offshore wind power industry to reach a new milestone."
The company added that its turbine is "of far-reaching significance for promoting the Chinese energy transition and accelerating the reach of '30/60' target," referring to China's plan to reach peak emissions by 2030, and carbon neutrality by 2060.
According to CSSC Haizhuang, the new turbine will power a 'modularised, medium-speed, geared drive train', which contains the gearbox and a permanent magnet generator. It will feature a 'holographic sensing system' for load reduction, and control technology for variable pitch and torque, along with multi-source online monitoring to reduce blade flutter, i.e. instability caused by vibration and pressure distributions. The design will minimise vibrations in the tower and foundations by as much as 50%.
The H260-18MW has a sweep area of 53,000 square metres, equivalent to seven football pitches. At full wind speed, 44.8 kilowatt-hours of electricity can be generated per revolution, and a single unit will produce more than 74 million kilowatt-hours of clean electricity per year, which can meet the annual electricity consumption of 40,000 households. Or put another way – building just a dozen of these could power nearly half a million homes. If each home contained an average of three people, it would mean a population of 1.4 million with access to clean energy. A field of 55 of these turbines would have the same capacity as a nuclear power station.
As of today, China is the world's largest wind power equipment manufacturing base. With its huge land mass and long coastline, the country has exceptional wind power resources, estimated at 2,380 gigawatts (GW) of exploitable capacity on land and 200 GW on sea. According to World Forum Offshore Wind, China added 5.1 GW of new offshore capacity during the first half of 2022 (the latest available data), boosting its total installed capacity to 24.9 GW, and has another 3.2 GW under construction.
Credit rating agency Fitch projects that wind power is now likely to reach 1,000TWh in China by 2028, which is 15% higher than previous forecasts, due to reduced project costs and efficiency improvements. Globally, offshore wind capacity could increase 15-fold by 2040, with more than $1 trillion of investment, according to the International Energy Agency.
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