Supersized Offshore Turbine Readies For Test

Vestas, trying to bounce back from a difficult few years, made news in the past few months with a succession of big orders, mostly for onshore wind turbines. Somewhat lost in the mix was the announcement of progress on an offshore turbine that could play a huge – in more ways that one – role in the company’s future.

In early December, Vestas announced [PDF] completion of a prototype nacelle for the Vestas V164-8.0 MW turbine. The hope is that the bigger turbine can help push down stubbornly high offshore wind costs by reducing foundation, transportation, construction, installation service and maintenance costs.

vestas V164-8.0 MW

The prototype nacelle for the V164-8.0 MW (image via Vestas)

Big it is, too: Unless you live in the suburbs, this nacelle is likely larger than your house, at 20 meters long, 8 meters wide and 8 meters high. It weighs around 390 tons with the hub included. “The V164-8.0 MW turbine will be the world’s most powerful, with one unit capable of supplying electricity for 7,500 average European households,” Vestas said.

It’s been a long road to this point for this turbine, first unveiled in March 2011 as a 7-megawatt power producer that the company hoped would be used in U.K. “Round 3” projects – massive wind arrays, totaling more than a gigawatt, planned to begin construction sometime in the middle of this decade.

The device, even as it was in its early stages of development, had trouble finding buyers, and in October 2012 Vestas announced a change to the V164 platform, increasing the turbine size to 8 MW.

Later that year, DONG joined Vestas on the project, cooperating to test the turbine at Test Centre Østerild in Denmark. The plan at the time was to have the testing under way during the second quarter of 2014 – a timeline that now looks like it might actually be on course, according to the Vestas announcement last month:

The V164-8.0 MW prototype will soon be installed at the Danish national testing center in Østerild, where further tests will be conducted to ensure the turbine’s reliability and performance to provide certainty to customers looking to make investments in offshore wind. Installation of the turbine is expected to be completed in the first quarter of the year.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.