In making the announcement, Vestas said this was part of the plan from the beginning, at least potentially.
“The V164 platform was from the very beginning developed with a possible potential of increasing the turbine size,” the company said. “The progress in the technology development has now shown that an 8 MW version will offer lower cost of energy and at the same time keep the reliability and structural integrity of the turbine unchanged.”
Vestas said “further development of the technologies” allowed the company to boost the capacity rating by a full megawatt.
Vestas unveiled the original V164 plans in March 2011, hoping to build and sell the then 7-MW turbine to U.K. “Round 3” projects – massive wind arrays, totaling more than a gigawatt, that are just now moving into the serious planning stages.
The company had intended to do nacelle assembly and blade manufacturing for the V164-7.0 at a big new manufacturing plant at the Port of Sheerness in Kent, about 45 miles east of London. But in June this year, the struggling company ditched that plan, saying that “such a factory is conditional on concrete orders in our order book and we have not announced any signed orders at this point.”
Vestas said the mold for the turbine’s astounding 80-meter blades is at a company facility in Isle of Wight, just off England’s south coast. The first blade is expected to be made before the end of the year, for testing early next year. If all goes well, a prototype of the 8-MW model will be installed at a test site in Oesterild, Denmark, in 2014, Vestas said.
The quest to give developers more bang for their buck that led to boosting the V164 to 8 megawatts isn’t unique to Vestas; in London on Thursday, some 20 companies – Vestas, plus fellow turbine makers like Alstom, Gamesa and Siemens, in addition to companies throughout the wind supply chain – gathered together under the auspices of Norstec.
This is a U.K. organized effort to get companies to collaborate to trim the cost of offshore wind, which Europe sees as a major piece of its long-term energy future, but has suffered from high costs. According to Bloomberg, the levelized cost of energy for offshore wind has been around $226/megawatt-hour, nearly twice that of onshore wind.