Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
The major announcements regarding new turbines came from Siemens, GE, Nordex, Areva and Alstom, but there was another interesting development.

Mitsubishi to Present Wind Turbine with Hydraulic Drive Train


In place of a conventional gear drive mechanism, MHI's state-of-the-art configuration features the world's first hydraulic drive train exclusively for use in large-size offshore wind turbines.
EWEA OFFSHORE 2011, organized by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), is Europe's largest exhibition of offshore wind turbines. MHI ... in the 7-megawatt (MW) class. The system, marking the first time MHI is announcing and showing the overview of an offshore system under development, is noteworthy for its adoption of a hydraulic transmission in the drive train. The rotor diameter exceeds 165 meters.
In November 2010 MHI and MPSE acquired Artemis Intelligent Power, Ltd., a UK venture company that possesses outstanding technology in hydraulic transmission systems. Applying this technology, MHI is now undertaking the development of a hydraulic drive train specifically for use in offshore wind turbines, targeting a new type of power generating system, including new blades. Plans call for domestic verification of the new system using existing wind turbine within 2012, operational testing in Europe in 2013, and commercial mass production to commence in 2015.

This development, which i missed at the event, is significant because it shows that technical development remains fluid and the industry is not mature (which many tend to forget.)

It also shows that new engineering ideas, even from countries behind the curve, can be innovative enough to attract industrial investment. And that Mitsubishi, with over 2 decades of turbine manufacturing experience, is willing to invest in a new direction.

Strangely, there was no announcement that the technology already exists, and is used commercially in the Voith WinDrive, first used by DeWind. Here, the third stage of a standard gearbox was replaced by a fluid torque converter.

Voith has been in the power business for a while, having built the turbines at Niagara Falls over a hundred years ago. I've climbed a
DeWind turbine, and seen some of the operational data, and realize this is just another path which, properly engineered, can acheive the desired results.

Interesting that Korean owned DeWind and Japanese Mitsubishi have taken this path.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaļs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Mon Dec 5th, 2011 at 03:53:18 AM EST
Of course, technical development by its nature is not always successful.

Sway floating test model sinks off Norwegian coast


Sway said the test turbine, which was launched early this year, was only designed for a maximum wave height of 4 metres. Data collected by NREL showed wave heights of 6.3 metres.

According to the company, a full-size version of the model would be able to withstand wave heights below 26 metres. It was installed in March. Sway Turbine, a sister company of Sway, is developing a 10MW turbine that could use the floating platform.

Development of floating turbine technology for the global industry is quite important, because no where else in the world do we find a giant underwater pool table like the North Sea. In many places around the world, one can't find thousands km2 of <45m depth. If you want your turbines invisible to coastal tourism, you've got to deal with the drop-off of continental shelves.

Naturally, such advanced design efforts tend to be focused in lands where the existing commercial industry is not as active. Very serious efforts are being made in Norway, Portugal, and significantly in the US.

Don't give up the ship, Sway.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaļs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Mon Dec 5th, 2011 at 07:05:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A small but telling Postcript:

There's a tradition in the wind industry that turbine demonstrations aimed specifically at securing the next stage of investment often fail.

Original case in point: the first test for investors of the initial commercial machine in amurka. The chief designer told the CEO and Board that the turbine wasn't ready. He was overruled, of course. The investors came and the turbine started up.

No cars were hit and there were no injuries as a blade sailed over the highway outside of Boston.

The investment deal was of course oversubscribed.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaļs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Mon Dec 5th, 2011 at 07:11:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sway said the test turbine, which was launched early this year, was only designed for a maximum wave height of 4 metres. Data collected by NREL showed wave heights of 6.3 metres.
According to the company, a full-size version of the model would be able to withstand wave heights below 26 metres.
That storm was the strongest I've experienced in 7 years in Norway, blowing down trees and utility poles on my sheltered inland road.
by Andhakari on Tue Dec 6th, 2011 at 06:10:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Failure is integral to the process of developing new technology.  
 

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Dec 5th, 2011 at 12:49:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't a hydraulic drive train more maintenance-intensive?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Dec 5th, 2011 at 01:57:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Depends on how it is implemented, and in comparison to what. Also, with a constant speed output shaft, you can have a normal synchronous generator, which utilities are much more comfortable with.

But it all depends on how well each particular drive train design is done. For example, Siemens is convinced there is no better alternative to DD. Vestas says the opposite. Other top designs are convinced the middle ground (hybrid) is the best path. I believe no one knows until years of data are compared. (Aber was weiss ich, ich bin nur CH.)

Fluid stages depend on the reaction time of the vanes. If they can be proven to reliably operate over a normal lifetime, with quick enough reaction time, then they provide real advantage. But that is not an easy hurdle to overcome, though its use in conventional oil and gas technology has been very successful, and considered maintenance free.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaļs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Mon Dec 5th, 2011 at 04:46:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Found on a wall at Voith during a due diligence visit:

a high reliability joke (believe that's the world bank tipping the scale)

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaļs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Dec 6th, 2011 at 02:06:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Occasional Series