A full re-working of Siemens’ SWT 3.6-120 offshore turbine has been unveiled, with the company confirming that it continues to expect serial production of its new 4.0MW design to begin in 2015. But no information has yet been provided about an offshore test site for the new model.
Siemens has also announced a new approach to organising its wind turbine production. Its goal is to standardise manufacturing in order to cuts costs. This may partially be achieved by greater sub-contracting.
The first large offshore wind farm likely to be powered by the SWT 4.0-130 is the 600MW Gemini project in Dutch waters, provided project finance is finalised this year. Last autumn, project developer Typhoon Offshore told Windpower Offshore that it hoped to achieve first power in 2015. Meeting this deadline may be possible, if the first 4.0MW machines roll off the production line without delay.
As previously reported by Windpower Offshore, the nacelle and tower of the SWT 4.0-130 are "advanced variants" of the 3.6MW machine, but the new model’s B63 rotor blades are a more significant step forward. Measuring 63m, the blades are "aeroelastic", allowing them to "react more flexibly to high wind loads." Siemens likens the blades’ capability to the "cushioning effect of shock absorbers on cars".
Onshore certification testing of a prototype of the 4MW design began in December 2012 at in Østerild in Denmark, where Siemens is also testing its SWT 6.0-154 model.
Modularisation to drive down costs
All Siemens turbines will now be categorised as belonging to one of four "platforms". The names of each platform refer to drive technology and performance class, resulting in the creation of two geared-drive platforms (G2 and G4) and two direct-drive platforms (D3 and D6). The new SWT 4.0-130 will sit within the G4 platform.
Each production platform will be based around five or six modules that will be deployed in various configurations. Speaking with Windpower Monthly TV, Siemens Wind cheif executive, Felix Ferlemann, explained how modularisation will reduce Siemens research and development (R&D) costs, as well as the expense of serial production of specific turbine models. Watch the Windpower Monthly TV interview with Ferlemann here.
Discussing Siemens Wind's new platform structure, chief technology officer, Henrik Stiesdal said: "We can reduce production and logistics costs by standardising and modularising components within our product platforms. This is a major step towards achieving our goal of making wind power independent from subsidising".
Speaking at the European Wind Energy Association’s conference in Vienna, Stiesdal suggested that modularisation offered OEMs the opportunity to outsource much more component manufacturer, as the automotive industry has done. As an example, OEMs currently manufacture complete nacelles themselves, but modularisation may lead to sub-contractors producing more complex and larger components that can then be easily assembled, said Stiesdal.