Wind Turbine Newcomer Goes Direct-Drive Route

The wind energy industry is one of the fastest growing in the world, and the competition is starting to get stiff. In order to boost the adoption of wind energy as a viable replacement for oil and coal, it needs to be cheaper. As demand rises and manufacturers emerge, the industry has begun to home in on the turbine designs that are easy to install, affordable to operate and maintain, and generate the biggest return on investment.

A such, there are bound to be companies claiming they’ve created “the next big thing” in wind turbine technology. Each claim should be taken with a grain of salt, especially when still in the prototype and testing phases, however. Mervento, a Finland-based wind turbine manufacturer, recently called its 3.6-118 turbine a “breakthrough in lowering the cost of energy.” While too early to know whether the design will revolutionize the industry, it’s got lots of good ideas worth a second look.

mervento wind turbine

image via Mervento

The turbine, which is Mervento’s first, is a horizontal-axis, direct drive system designed specifically for near or offshore use. Direct drive means that the wind turbine rotor and the generator have the same rotational speed. The turbine hub and generator structure are integrated, making it possible for us to exclude the gearbox from the design. The 3.6-118 features also features hydraulic actuating systems for the yaw, pitch and rotor brake, and ventilation and cooling fans that operate on variable speed in accordance with the actual power need.

Although Mervento claims that the 3.6-118 offers the “lowest operating and maintenance costs over the complete life cycle” of the turbine, its first pilot wind turbine was erected at the beginning of 2012, and has only been sending power to the local grid since beginning of March. It is currently in the process of being certified to conform to the requirements in the IEC 61400 standards and complementing DNV guidelines.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog