All the primary players in offshore wind turbine manufacturing have launched ever-larger models in recent years. Chinese wind turbine producer Goldwind is also focusing on developing larger units for what the company calls "the next generation of offshore wind turbines".
Two years back, the Chinese manufacturer opened a research and development division in Denmark for the purpose of securing the company a central position in the race to supply competitive wind turbines for offshore projects.
"We still have the possibility of lowering the cost of energy from offshore wind by scaling up our turbines. This is no secret, and it remains widely recognized in the industry," says Goldwind Denmark Deputy General Manager and Chief Engineer Bo Juul Pedersen.
The levelized cost of energy (LCOE) is measurement standard the industry closely monitors, and it expresses a project's total costs relative to energy generation.
As subsidy levels in Europe gradually taper off, lowering expenses becomes an increasing pressing matter. Reducing costs can be achieved by, for instance, deploying larger turbines. However, problems can also arise in doing so.
"We also need to be aware of problems related to increasing turbine scale using existing technology. Some of the technologies currently used by the industry would lend themselves well to scaling up to the size of contemporary offshore turbines," he continues.
Monitoring new technologies
That is one of the reasons that Goldwind's office in Denmark, presently employing 30 persons, has established a division that constantly monitors new technologies and evaluates the potential value these could create for Goldwind.
"We want to be sure that we don't miss out on a new technology that could end meaning our present technology would be surpassed," says Juul Pedersen.
Beyond the possibilites and challenges of scaling, Goldwind is also working on a digitalization strategy for improving the company's offers to customers in order to provide potential savings and improve information on state of wind farms.
"Digitalization, including data management, provides even better possibilities for component diagnostics customers can use for planning and can help reduce maintenance costs and also supplying customers with prognoses about a wind farm's generation and income," says the chief engineer.
He sees potential for digitalization for both onshore and offshore wind, but especially regarding the latter, which he expects will make a large difference – both for Goldwind and for customers.
"Goldwind sees a relatively big growth potential in 'after sales' services, and there is no doubt that our digitalization strategy will play a role in facilitating such growth," says Juul Pedersen.
New software can ensure better advice
New software can, for example, give customers a better understanding of wear on a specific wind farm as well as the state of turbine components.
"We can use that information to insure we give better advice to customers concerning appropriate maintenance and production plans," says Juul Pedersen.
Customers – which include wind farm developers and owners – can use such information to be prepared when components need to be replaced and to have all the necessary items on hand at the right time.
Furthermore, the technology could also help customers in a time when energy markets are becoming liberalized.
"There is not sense in spending a portion of a turbine's lifecycle in periods when power prices are low, when one could instead utilize them in times when power prices are higher," says Juul Pedersen.
According to the chief engineer, a large part of a turbine's competitiveness can be traced to the details, and reducing weight can provide particular benefits. Lighter turbines ease transport, and a more production-friendly design can also play a role securing competitive gains.
Launched new turbine in 2017
Goldwind announced in November last year a new offshore wind turbine rated at 6.7 MW capacity, and the company informed at the time that it was also aiming for markets outside China, for instance, Japan, South Korea and Europe.
According to Juul Pedersen, the manufacturer does not have any news lined up for what it calls "the next generation of offshore wind turbines".
"We don't have any presentations coming soon or anything new to tell about our offshore product as such. We are still in a conceptual phase, and we are exploring technologies.
English Edit: Daniel Frank Christensen
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