ZF, Envision sign collaboration deal

Belgian gearbox provider ZF Wind Power and Chinese turbine manufacturer Envision have signed a strategic partnership deal for the "development and delivery" of offshore wind turbine gearboxes.

Mitja Schulz, head of ZF Wind Power, and Xu Gang, global VP of Envision Energy, sign the collaboration agreement
Mitja Schulz, head of ZF Wind Power, and Xu Gang, global VP of Envision Energy, sign the collaboration agreement

The companies said the partnership would "jointly [build] high-reliable and cost-competitive offshore wind turbines for the fast-growing wind market".

It appears the deal was struck on the sidelines of China Wind Power 2019 in Beijing (21-24 October).

"This strategic partnership will bring significant benefit to our customers in terms of advanced technology, robust quality and superior lifecycle cost advantages," said Envision global vice president Xu Gang.

The firms will probably build upon ZF’s Shift modular gearbox platform. Speaking to Windpower Monthly in March 2018, Mark Knops, CTO, described the challenge in creating flexible and scalable products.

 "An essential element of our modular Shift gearbox platform is keeping identical most outer dimensions and sizes of internal parts of a given platform.

"Built-in flexibility for input torque rating is created by varying the planet numbers, especially in the low-speed planetary stage, currently between three and four, and offer variation in gear widths," he said.

This enables ZF gearbox clients to introduce a turbine platform with a given power rating and rated input torque, and step up either the rating or rotor diameter, or both, during the product lifecycle.

According to Knops, the Shift concept enables mechanical torque increases up to 40%, while covering a broad range of gear ratios and matching gearbox-generator combinations with unchanged gearbox outer dimensions and (often) without altering nacelle dimensions.

Envision, meanwhile, currently offers a 4.5MW offshore wind turbine model.

However, with the Chinese offshore market set to take-off in the next decade, the market will be looking towards the higher-rated turbine choices.  

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