This Offshore Wind Turbine Is Quite The Monster

When France declared its renewable energy target for 23 percent by 2020, a number of wheels (or turbines if you will) began turning to make that happen. In 2011, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that France would be spending over $13.5 billion in offshore wind farms in Northern France. As one would imagine, a number of companies jumped at the call for tenders, including a consortium led by EDF Energies Nouvelles and using Alstom as the turbine manufacturer. Their approach seems to fall under the “go big or go home” mentality, as they focus efforts on the “next generation” of turbines, which translates into much, much bigger.

We’re now starting to see the fruit of that investment as Alstom plants its massive 6 megawatt Haliade 150 offshore wind turbine into the ground for testing at Carnet in the Loire-Atlantique. Obviously an offshore wind turbine put on dry land seems counter-intuitive, but the location was carefully chosen to easily collect data in an area with geological characteristics similar to the eventual submarine environment.

Alstom Haliade Wind Turbine

image via Alstom

The initial turbine will undergo a series of year-long tests which require lots of measurements and manipulations which are much easier to conduct onshore. The objective is to analyze the turbine’s power curve to see its capacity for producing electricity efficiently, as well as to test all the individual systems, including the electrical equipment, generator, software, and mechanical components.

If all goes well, offshore testing will begin this fall, where performance and maintenance will be further tested under actual operating conditions. To facilitate easy access, the central block of the turbine comes with a helipad so workers can quickly hop on over in a helicopter.

While there are some recently developed turbine giants for onshore wind, Alstom’s turbine lays claim to the largest offshore wind turbine in the world (although technically not yet in the water). The largest motivator to build a bigger turbine is that it helps reduce the high cost of offshore wind power. Since the actual turbine and infrastructure cost is just incremental the larger the turbine gets, the drastic difference in output could bring the energy cost down quite a bit.

Alstom Haliade Turbine

image via Alstom

To give some context for this 6MW turbine’s size, the company’s onshore wind turbines currently in use have a capacity between 1.7 and 3 MW.  Alstom’s 1,500 ton turbine has a sub-structure of 25 meters, with a tower of 75 meters on which the nacelle sits 100 meters above ground. According to Alstom, each turbine’s output could produce enough energy to power 5,000 households.

Not only does the 6MW turbine have the potential to contribute a large amount of renewable energy to France’s 23 percent by 2020, it also stands to infuse France with jobs. According to Alstom, if the project is successful they plan to build up to four factories to build and assemble components which would create a large number of related jobs.

To get a better scope on the size of this monster offshore wind turbine, check out the video from Alstom below. Minus the quirky music, it really is eye opening how big this clean energy generator will be.

Angeli Duffin is a Midwest transplant currently living in San Francisco, CA. Kicking off her career doing product design and development with Fair Trade artisans around the world, she then moved on to the editorial side, writing for eBay’s Green Team blog and working as a marketing consultant for social and environmentally minded companies

    • sord87

      worth spending!

    •  5000 homes with $100/month electric bill equals $6 million per year per turbine. Just a wild guess but nemerically sounds like not nearly enough for a $14,5 billion project. Another envirowacko boondoggle. What a waste.

      • Pete Danko

        The project isn’t to install one turbine, it’s to install 3 gigawatts of offshore capacity — the equivalent of 500 such turbines.

        • Speed Raysah

          All you need is a DeLorean and a flux capacitor, and you could build a time machine.

        • So what are the IF’S here:
          If you get 500 turbines at $100/month you collect $3 billion a month with a payoff in 5 months.  Except this is only 23% of the power grid so it’s really 22 months.

          If you are on budget, which is extremely rare with government funded projects and has never happened on new projects you have a chance.

          If you have any form of maintenance costs involved you will extend that ROI period significantly.  Seeing that these are new and untested I expect the maintenance will be extremely high.  More so when you consider that this is a government funded project and not one that has to be owned and operated by the private sector – they’ll throw money at it for decades.

          If the system reliably provides 23% of the power all the time – this is already showing to be a false estimation of it’s power capacity.  Germany is already showing signs of energy shortages because they over extended into inconsistent energy supplies and expect, in the winter when power generation is at it’s lowest, to have significant shortages when people need energy the most.

      • rickcain2320

         Well we can always Fukushima everything instead.

        • kdms232

          The problem with Fukushima was not that it was nuclear, but that those in charge did not forsee the tidal wave or earthquake of that magitude coming in an swamping the plant. They actually caused the problem of the nuclear contamination themselves-direct from a nuke engineer I know. But beyond the mistakes, the plant had not been upgraded to keep their electrical systems online in case of a serious emergency. Remember they lost all electrical power that is needed. Keeping all that in mind, they are a country of earthquakes, you would think they would have made sure the plant could have withstood anything.

          • iris palantine
            • kdms232

              Iris, You will not get an arguement from me about Thorium being used as fuel for energy plants. However I will stand by what I wrote about Fukushima and those in charge when the huge waves hit. For a country that should have forseen any potential nuc problems, they screwed up big time, and because of that neglect they likely set back nuclear energy back. While it would be very sweet if intelligent people started thing here in the US about Thorium, it is doubtful. Here the environmentalist answer is always solar, wind possibly wave. All of which is not always the answer. Note they just discovered the wind farms are actually causing the earth to warm up a lot in the area of the wind farms to the point of it changing the weather. Solar while it can work is not actually practical to retro fit older houses.
              Cleaner coal burning is practical, nuclear energy is practical but in my opinion we are still in its younger stage. Gas while right now is abundant, will be used up just like oil. We need a multi-tiered approach to energy creation across the world not just the USA. China burning coal and not being concerned about air quality just moves the problem to an unregulated country who just does not care.

          • Palberts1

            what, we don’t have earthquakes here? regardless , they have a large waste area and years of clean-up and who knows what long term health problems ahead. wind and solar don’t cause any health risks and don’t produce spent fuel rods( an accident waiting to happen)

            • kdms232

              Yes we have earthquakes, but if you know anything about Japan you know how prone it is to tidal waves and earthquakes. Taking all that in stride, it was just proven that windmills raise the ground temperature where the wind farms exist. In case you do not understand what happens next, it actually does cause a shift in the weather with the direct cause of strong winds, i.e. try understanding storms in Southern US.Now, done responsibly, nuclear power can be utilized. However while the points you made are real, it is still the least of all the issues and problems that are caused in creating energy on a “large scale”.  I asked for an evaluation for wind on my property. I was told by numerous officials my location  was no good. If it was, it would mean I would have to clearcut most of the land. Not a trade off in my opinion. In real terms gas is limited, oil is limited, wind is not an option everywhere, solar is not practical, so what options do you have to offer, Coal?As an environmentalist what are you real solutions to creating vast amounts of energy with our existing technology? No daydreaming, just plain and simple rationale. Either nuclear or coal if used properly and safeguards and scrubbers in place, both would give us time, measure in decades to find a solution to clean energy production

          • Iwalksalot1

            actually the engineers that designed and built fukishima knew that it would not hold up in an earthquake

            • kdms232

              I guess that says it all, in a country that has earthquakes so often and not put in the safeguards to keep the electric operating, that is the crime, not that it was nuclear. Like children going out and playing in the street, you know a vehicle will come alone and kill one of them at one time or another, so why not put in safeguards to prevent it.

      • Ted Ward

        14.5 billion dollars works fine at half a million per month per turbine given a few hundred turbines installed, the numbers work just fine. What’s the problem? It’s not 14.5 billion for one single turbine…

      • Fotogmike

        That’s some Bull math 🙂  $14.5B / 500 turbines = $29M per turbine.  NOW divide by $6M…a bit under 5 years.  Welcome to the envirowacko club!

        • Pinkhm

           Ummm…I think you did your math wrong. ….$14.5 billion divided by 500 = $290 million per turbine. Will take 48 years to pay for itself if there are absolutely zero maintenance issies. I dont think those turbines are built to last 48 years either.

          • Pinkhm

            lol…oops… too many zeroes…It is only $29 Million…sheesh…did I just say ONLY $29 million

        • Palberts1

          don’t forget the amount of fuel you would have to spend to produce the energy the turbines produce, or in your world real math not required?

      • Janezimmerman90

        somebody should do the cost benefit analysis of additional oil spills as we go deeper into the ocean — i’m sure then it won’t seem like too much of an “envirowacko boondoggle” in comparison. 

        get your facts straight. 

        • Bobsorangetiger

          Off shore is not the only option for drilling… the enviromental freaks would hve us all back in the stone age if possible…whoops do not cut the trees for fire wood smoke would pollute the air….REALLY????  If people would be reasonable on both sides it would be great but the enviro freaks tend towards violence and if that doesn’t work they try to convince the government to regulate everything.

          • Palberts1

            everybody realizes that oil WILL run out-why not work on alternatives and different technologies so the transition is easier. or should we just drain the tap and then figure out what to do?

            • fred37ify

              We have over 200 years worth in the US !  Why wreck our economy now when we don’t need to ?

          • iris palantine

            Really?! you want to talk about violence? how about invading Iraq? how about massive oil spills? how about the consequences of releasing trillions of tons of sequestered carbon from the earths crust? Resonable my a$$!

          • disqus_HUVXCgD9Sw

            So far, every single act of ‘environmental terrorism’ that I have read about could be more simply explained by the owners burning their property down for the insurance.

      • iris palantine

        What do you get paid for being a first posting Republican operative??

        • Jeremy Hogue

          Actually, I’m a life-long Republican and I totally support alternate forms of generating electricity.  Oil and coal are finite and dirty.  I can promise you though, when the Arab oil fields run dry, the sun will still be coming up and the wind is still going to blow.

        • Itsasekret

           What do you get for allowing your brain to be pickled by progressive bs for the last 30 years? Probably just a nasty infection!

      • wildeve2003

        Just another sign of americans having too much money.

      • David

        First off, it’s $13.5B, not $14.5B, and you obviously blanked at the words “testing” and “wind farms”.

        Recent research has shown that conservatives don’t tend to really read the things they opine on. Even when they attempt to think critically, as here, it’s generally facile 3rd-grade math critiques of completely misread/misunderstood information.

    • sig k

      Why don’t you edit out the crazy and thoughtless comments? It would make a better reading experience. Though I don’t understand how anyone can make a thoughtful or intelligent statement against wind,(wind a form of solar), power.  It is free and has nearly no negative environmental impact, but I will listen or read as long as it doesn’t reach for the mud and rotten tomatoes. Unfortunately it seems that anti-environmentalism is all anout rotten vegetables and mud smearing and that there are no thoughtful anti-environmentalists, just crackers and crackpots.

      • henrythe8thiam

        Well said, I think, but consider this: Why is it that Ca has all these green energy projects (like wind power for instance) yet shuts it down because birds are being killed? Seems like someone needs to get their priorties straight before jumping on a certain bandwagon. That decision is what I would call a crackpot approach to a non-existent problem?

        • rickcain2320

           Unfortunately there’s always a crazy old wizard living out in a desert complaining about the turbines.

      • Pete Danko

        Thanks for your thoughts, sig k. We share your wish that all comments could be thoughtful and on point, but ultimately feel it is important to keep the comments open to all that are not offensive.
        Pete Danko
        Managing Editor, EarthTechling

        • Augustleo

          What do you do when the wind stops?  Can you store the electricity in batteries?

          • Pete Danko

            Power can be stored in batteries, but that’s expensive. There are other ways to store power — pumped storage the most common — but the more important point is that wind isn’t the sole source of power but is a contributor to a smart, flexible grid.

          • rickcain2320

             The wind stops?!?  I live in Oklahoma, never heard of such a thing.

            • disqus_HUVXCgD9Sw

              Well to be fair, there are spots in Oklahoma where the wind does occasionally NOT blow. Just ask anyone who owns a sailboat.

              That said, you have just made a point for building more wind turbines – in more places. the wind will have to be blowing at one of them!

      • rickcain2320

         I like seeing the crackpot comments, it reminds me of what we’re up against when trying to progress humanity technologically.   Too many 2000 year old book types out there that still think we should heat our homes with wood.

        •  Actually it is more like people who own property with nice views who don’t want it tarnished. Just look at Martha’s Vineyard.

        • kdms232

          Hate to tell you but it works and works well, but it is not for everyone. It would be really impractical in a city or even a town of any size. But in the country where I can go 100 feet to take down a dead tree, yep it works. BUt like I said, it does not work for everyone.

        • Email

          You’re pathetic.  Idiot!

        • You do realize that the oil industry is selling you hundreds of millions years old organic material ( WOOD ) to generate power, and your exasperated with folks that want to use 2000 year old tech?  Well it does take all kinds…

    • GHZSD

      I would support projects like this in the US “IF” the manufacturing was to be done here and by skilled AMERICAN labor.

      Therein lies the rub. Neither party would support this. The left would want illegals to do the work and the right would fear competition for big oil…

      • USAguest

        That’s a tad over simplified my lad.

        • GHZSD

           4 lines? Occam’s razor says the simplest solution is most often the right one. Of course we will never see this technology or any other in the US because we are no longer a first world nation but rather a debtor nation leaning towards the Rome ending. That said simple or not the facts remain intact!

          • James Adam Frederick

            You’ve never been to western Texas, have  you?  There are plenty of wind farms out there.  Just because we aren’t using them offshore or at this capacity yet, doesn’t mean we won’t, or can’t.

            • Sledpower

              You can also find them in Northern Maine and Vermont.  They are powering Customs locations at the border crossings above Jackman Maine. Not always visible but they are here.

            • rickcain2320

               Interesting that the West Texas turbines were there because a governor named George W. Bush felt it was important to explore wind power.   The rightwing pro-nuclear minions have a memory hole in this regard.

            • I don’t have any knowledge but would be willing to bet any wind power supported by Bush included a political favor or money paid.  If you were to take the money spent in Iraq and subtract the benefit of any support of wind power by Bush, you will still have a minus net effect of the Bush administration – no net new jobs for 8 years…

            • “I don’t have any knowledge…” but would be more than willing to post my opinions in spite of that.

        • DDanny1

          How many Fortune 500 CEO’s outsourcing jobs do you suppose are liberals?

      • rickcain2320

         Actually the right wants the illegal, cheap labor, no need to give them health insurance, they won’t sue if they get injured on the job.   Capitalist paradise.

      • Margalus

        it’s amazing how screwed up your perception is.  The left would jump on that in a heartbeat.  The “left” believe in paying for American skilled labor.  It’s the republican right that hates skilled American labor.  The republican right is who wants illegal labor so they can pay the CEO’s that do nothing but sit on their fat asses 10000 times as much as the workers who actually do the work.  And that’s not even getting into the rights love affair with big oil…..

        •  Yeah, we hate skilled labor. We WANT stuff built like sh!t because it is always more fun to have something broken to fix. Wish we could get some skilled commentary here. Now THAT would be worth paying more for!

        • kdms232

          And if you did not have the “fat cat” in charge I assume the laborers would know what to do? There are far more levels needed above the laborer then this eon the left want to realize. Now the United States does not have the highly skilled labor pool we once had, there is no one to follow up the “highly skilled laborers we had even just 60 years ago, heck even 40 years ago. Companies left the USA because of high labor costs. As an example, when your garbageman who picks up your trash makes more then your child’s teacher, we have a problem. THE problem is that was happening 40 years ago.

      • kdms232

        The problem with the left is they do not understand the term illegal meaning the person did not come into this country the correct manner, thus illegal.
        As for Big oil, try typing on anything now days because without that oil, you do not have likely 75 to 90% of what you have around you. 
        Adding to that, how about putting out a billion dollars in locating oil or anything else and waiting a few years for any payback? A small company can not afford that, but a larger company can, unless of course you want the government to step in a start drilling, someday.

      •  THat’s where you’re a bit mistaken. It is the corporations, darlings of the right, that so love employing undocumented immigrants. When you can credibly threaten to have a worker deported (and face only a small risk of prosecution for doing so), you own that worker, body and soul, for as long as that worker needs the work.

    • blindbear

      Another example of the US’s hyper-partisanism.  Just what the hell does turbine power have to do with “left” or “right”?  Are the turbine blades fascist?  The towers…are they all working together as socialists?  Red & blue states.  Next we’ll hear that when the wind blows from the west it’s a liberal wind and when it blows from the east it’s a right-wing wind. Boehmer causes tornadoes and Obama is the number one cause of hurricanes?

      • Skipdallas1

        Wow! You get it huh?

    • RayBurne

      8 years of satellite data shows that the land warmed 1.3F at wind farms in Texas. “Given the present installed capacity and the projected growth in
      installation of wind farms across the world, I feel that wind farms, if
      spatially large enough, might have noticeable impacts on local to
      regional meteorology,” Liming Zhou, associate professor at the State
      University of New York, AlbanyEssentially, any energy production has negative environmental impact.  Maybe we could put nuclear stations on the moon and drop down power cords, but I suspect the airlines would be less than happy.People – get over it.  IF all of the “green-chanting” liberals had their way, dinosaurs would be an endangered species and would still roam freely.  Green is about being responsible, not about being ridiculous.  All of man’s actions on the earth have not had the environmental impact of the meteor that created the Chicxulub crater.Wind power, natural gas, coal, hydroelectric… I don’t care where the electricity comes from, the fact is we humans love it… we demand it… and as long as we can afford it, we will consume it.  If we put little propeller powered generator hats on all the hot-head whiners out there, we could generate a significant amount of energy just from the up draft.- Ray

    • Snidely70448

       If such a wind turbine were to be proposed for the USA, there would be a rending of garments and a gnashing of teeth over the migratory birds blended and the ruination of the seascape.  Lawsuits would be rife.  GreenPeace would occupy the towers.  See Kennedy, Teddy and Cod, Cape.

    • geffox

      why bother cost calculation? If Alstom will go bankrupted, French govnm will take care of it.

    • nw5052001

      The windmills have an agenda of their own, each will power one another, reverse their polarities to drive the motors, rotate to one direction and spin the earth faster and faster until gravity reaches critical mass and the moon is pulled toward us on a collision course…


      • Tonofun2001

        the machines are going to rule the world

      • Skipdallas1

        Physics Much?

    • nw5052001

      The windmills have an agenda of their own, each will power one another, reverse their polarities to drive the motors, rotate to one direction and spin the earth faster and faster until gravity reaches critical mass and the moon is pulled toward us on a collision course…


    • Federy

      Why are all of you spending so much time and effort to comment on this (or any) article when only a dozen people will ever see it, and all of your work will disappear into the ether within a few days? 

      • Skipdallas1

        Because ideas are worth discussing. And even if they disappear from this site, they live on in the minds of the participants. As to your claim that “Only a dozen people will ever see it.” Well, you (someone that doesn’t care for the subject) read the article and commented. So I am sure that there are interested folks out there that do not live in their Mom’s basement that have appropriate comments and thoughts to share with others. 
        Why anyone (you) would troll a site like this is beyond comprehension. Unless of course you are a “Flat-Earther”, or “Creationist”. 

    • Larsch47

      Alstom which is top notch in pebblebed nuclear should incorporate wave energy into it’s offshore program. Double the output with virtually the same cost.Much faster ROI to investors

    • Segunonanuga

      We need to invoke the spirit if Tesla or subponea JP Morgan to produce the details of wireless energy experiments of Tesla.

    • Vascopolis


      The same silly concept as “Electric Cars” only now we are screwing with weather and wind patterns. EVERY action has a reaction. The “free” wind is NOT at the same speed on the outbound side, as inbound.

      IT AIN’T FREE.

      Then there is the true cost. Profits? Hell no ! SUBSIDIZATION is what pays for these. YOUR tax dollars ! They will turn a profit in, say, 500 years.

      Then, there’ POLLUTION. Steel from China, Korea, Japan… the WORST polluters in the world . Just the extra pollution from the Steel Plants and the Power Plants required to make these, ZEROS OUT ANY GAIN.

      THEN… there is the “smart” ELECTRIC CARS !!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Ecconomy? Your gasoline goes to zero and your electric bill skyrockets…
      Clean Air? Trade off (low) auto emmissions for massive coal fired, oil fired and atomic power plant emmissions and dangers which ZERO OUT ANY GAIN.
      Reduce depency on oild ??? NO WAY, instead of burning a gallon in the car, you burn a gallon at the power plant.

      AND, currently, as gas stations are prevalent, and charging stations are not, you “waste” electricity getting to a charging location out-of-the-way.

      So…………. WHY?