French engineering giant Alstom yesterday announced it has successfully completed the installation of the world's largest offshore wind turbine, off Ostend Harbour in Belgium.
The company said the installation of its 6-MW Haliade 150 turbine made it the largest wind turbine to ever be erected offshore. The giant turbine boasts pillars that have been sunk to a depth of over 60 metres, a 61 metre tall jacket, a 78 metre tower, a nacelle that stands 100 metres above sea level, and blades that are over 73 metres long. The entire structure is said to weigh around 1,500 tonnes.
Alstom is one of a number of engineering firms working on the next generation of giant offshore wind turbines that are designed to deliver at least 6MW of capacity. The company said that the size of the turbine, coupled with an innovative new direct drive design that removes the need for a gearbox means the yield from the turbine is 15 per cent better than existing turbines, allowing a single installation to provide enough power for around 5,000 households.
Alstom said the design had already been successfully tested onshore and the new installation at the Belwind wind farm would "help in confirming how the machine behaves within the offshore environment for which it was specifically designed and developed".
The company also highlighted its plans to complete the development of two new factories in Saint-Nazaire by mid-2014 to produce the nacelles and generators for the turbine and then bring online two new factories in Cherbourg to produce the blades and towers.
"This project with Belwind asserts our technological leadership and our innovative abilities," said Alstom Wind senior vice-president Alfonso Faubel in a statement. "The installation of our turbine is simple, robust and efficient thus contributing in boosting the competitiveness of offshore wind energy."
The development of next generation offshore turbines is regarded as critical to the future of the industry, as larger turbines are expected to bring down the overall cost of offshore wind energy.
The news comes just days after Danish utility DONG Energy announced that it was moving forward with plans for the €2.2bn (£1.8bn) Gode Wind projects, making it the first German project to deploy Siemens new 6MW turbines.