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Designed for offshore

WORLDWIDE: Most of the current installed offshore turbines are in the 2-5MW range, three-bladed, pitch-controlled variable speed with upwind rotor orientation, with gearbox. Generators are usually induction or doubly-fed induction. Permanent-magnet generators feature only in a small number, through the Areva Multibrid M5000 turbine. Direct-drive PMG turbines are in very small numbers, mainly Goldwind and the one-off STX 2MW turbine.

A fast-speed geared wind turbine
A fast-speed geared wind turbine
The most popular offshore wind turbine model in terms of an over 1,100-unit order backlog continues to be the fast-speed geared 3.6MW Siemens turbine, now fitted with an enlarged 120-metre rotor diameter.

Coming up

The next round of offshore turbines appears to favour the 5-7MW class, with several 6MW-class machines in development. While most will be direct-drive, some will be geared models, and a mix of medium and high-speed.

While all those listed below have three blades, two-bladed designs are being considered by Dutch 2-B Energy, Germany's Aerodyn and UK-based Condor Wind Energy, which is developing an unusual 5MW medium-speed upwind offshore turbine with an 8-pole induction generator, a teeter hub and active yaw control.

Future plans of note include GE's 15MW turbine with high-temperature superconductor or HST generator and a vertical-axis 10MW Aerogenerator X, being a Darrieus rotor variant characterised by a huge V-shaped rotor.

Finally, price development and future availability of rare earths used for wind-turbine generator permanent magnets could heavily influence the growing popularity of direct-drive PMG as the drive system of choice.

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