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Turbines of the year: Size matters for industry awards

WORLDWIDE: Bigger doesn't always mean better, but the winners from our fifth annual review of the wind industry's best new turbines and major components tended towards the large size for the hardware that contended for the 2016 Windpower Monthly awards

The expansion, in dimensions and numbers, of offshore wind machinery during 2016 is clearly reflected in these awards with the longest rotor blade yet, as well as the biggest, and most powerful, gearbox.

But the same trend is discernible in the onshore sector — taller towers, longer blades, higher-rated turbines. If last year's buzz word was automation; this year's is upscaling, especially in ratings.

Classes and criteria

Wind turbines are judged in three classes: up to 2.9MW, 3MW-plus, and offshore. There are also awards for drivetrains, rotor blades and the year's most promising innovations.

To qualify for a turbine award, the model needs to have been made available for commercial order in the past 12 months, with at least one prototype installed and operating. Working prototypes are also required in the components categories.

Ground-breaking technology helps, but the Windpower Monthly awards recognise the everyday requirements of energy generators.

Among other things we examine the quality of the product's design and manufacture, its track record, impact on the market, industrialisation stage and expected advancements, installation and maintenance. The key question is this: does it generate more electricity at a lower upkeep cost?

Fast forward

Our Turbine of the Year awards have now been running since the January 2013 issue of the magazine, with interest growing each year.

Plans are now being made for further expansion of the judging categories to highlight other aspects of the global wind energy industry. More details of the wind-power "Oscars" will be revealed during the course of 2017.

 

KEY TO TABLES

C&GFRE – carbon & glass-fibre reinforced epoxy

DD – direct drive

DFIG – doubly-fed induction generator

EESG – electrically excited synchronous generator

GFRE – glass-fibre reinforced epoxy

HH – hub height

HSG – high-speed geared

IG – induction generator

LSG – low-speed geared

MSG – medium-speed geared

PMG – permanent magnet generator

PCVS – pitch-controlled variable-speed

IEC – class site ratings I, IIA, IIIB etc (I-III is equivalent to high-low wind speed in descending order, A-C is turbulence intensity in descending order, S meets special conditions outside class requirements

 

ONSHORE TURBINES UP TO 2.9MW

The volume end of the wind-power market, where competition over price and specification is at its most intense

MEDAL WINNERS

GOLD Gamesa G126-2.5MW

ONSHORE TURBINES 3MW-PLUS

Rapidly growing sector in mature markets, especially in low- and medium-wind-speed areas 

MEDAL WINNERS

GOLD Enercon E-141

OFFSHORE TURBINES

The super-sized new generation machinery that is driving down offshore wind costs

MEDAL WINNERS

GOLD Siemens SWT-7.0-154

DRIVETRAINS

Greater power without weight penalties in drive development 

MEDAL WINNERS

GOLD Windergy 8MW Gearbox

ROTOR BLADES

LM Wind Power’s 88.4-metre, 34-tonne blade for 8MW Adwen offshore turbine tops the table

MEDAL WINNERS

GOLD LM Wind Power 88.4 P Rotor Blade

INNOVATION

Best of the year’s brightest ideas at the cutting edge of wind-energy design and development

MEDAL WINNERS

GOLD Vestas 900kW Multi-rotor concept turbine

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