Enercon launches world's most powerful turbines in Belgium

The first of the high-power Enercon wind turbines, which are destined to become the most powerful in the world, were inaugurated at the Estinnes wind station in late November 2009, watched by outgoing EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs.

The Enercon E-126 has a 126m rotor diameter
The Enercon E-126 has a 126m rotor diameter

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The five turbines, the first of 11 destined for the site in the Belgian province of Hainaut, are initially operating with a rated capacity of 6 MW, but Enercon plans to increase the nominal power of most of them during 2010 towards the intended 7 MW, making them the most powerful in the world to date, says the company.

The 11 machines represent the first small series production of the 6-7 MW turbine. Until now, development of Enercon's largest turbine type, starting with the first 4.5 MW turbine back in 2002 and moving up to 6 MW in 2005, has taken place with installation of just one to three turbines each year.

The wind station, installed for European developer WindVision, was co-financed by the European Union with the aim of testing the nominal 6 MW turbine's performance at higher power levels and to investigate grid integration of such large wind turbines.

Once operating at 7 MW each, the 11 turbines are expected to generate an annual 187 GWh, equivalent to the electricity needs of some 50,000 households.

Enercon is also testing higher capacity at some of the eight 6 MW turbines already installed and operating in Germany. They are being adapted to an initial capacity of 7 MW, says the company's Volker Uphoff. The logistics are tricky however.

The world's largest crawler crane with load capacity of 1,600 tonnes had to be specially developed and constructed to lift the 127 metre diameter rotor in one stage, Enercon states.

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