Wind energy Gamesa erects its first 4.5-MW wind turbines

The independent certification body, GL Renewables Certification (GL), has approved the machine, making it "financeable" and bolstering its sales potential. The device features six technological innovations, while its global testing plan, unprecedented in the industry, involved 618 component trials at 100 accredited laboratories and testing centres (300,000 validation engineering hours).

The turbine stands out in the industry for its lightweight construction despite its size: a 120-metre tower and 62.5-metre blades; the competitiveness of its cost of energy; ease of transport and assembly, thanks to a segmented blade – unique in the world – and crane coupled to the nacelle and used for assembly and servicing (FlexiFit).

The turbine is a reality: series devices have been produced for months, with full manufacturing rollout slated to begin in 2012, as Gamesa has already landed deals to install the machines in Europe.

Gamesa, a global technology leader in wind energy, has obtained IEC WT 01 type certification from GL Renewables Certification (GL) for its Gamesa G128-4.5 MW wind turbine, after the independent certification body endorsed the technology used in the most powerful device on the onshore wind power market. The GL certificate makes the Gamesa G128-4.5 MW a financeable machine, facilitates access to financing by wind farm projects using the new turbine, and bolsters the marketing drive already underway for this device.

"We have created and developed the wind turbine of the future. The Gamesa G128-4.5 MW is a reality, and I would say a perfect one, as it exemplifies our technological and leadership skill at offering our customers innovative solutions. With this new project, we have successfully brought onshore wind technology to the next level in nominal capacity, reliability and efficiency in cost of energy terms," said Gamesa Chairman and CEO Jorge Calvet. "What’s more, it represents the technological framework, proven and validated for years, upon which we are basing development of our offshore turbine systems."

A validation process unprecedented in the industry

This turbine system’s validation process, which was key to its development, involved an exhaustive programme unprecedented in the industry: 618 component trials were conducted at 100 accredited laboratories and testing centres (a total of 300,000 engineering hours devoted to component validation), along with 112 tests of functional systems totalling 14,000 hours of operation for the drive train, generator/converter and blades.

"Experience and data gathered from independent engineering firms show that new turbine models launched on the market take an average of five years to reach commercial availability levels. In the case of the G10X-4.5 MW, our strategy is clear: increase both the resources devoted to and length of the validation plan to achieve commercial availability levels beginning with the very first unit," said Gamesa Chief Technology Officer José Antonio Malumbres.

Furthermore, Gamesa developed six technological innovations for this turbine system: Innoblade®, Multismart®, ConcreTower®, CompacTrain®, FlexiFit® and GridMate®. (See appendix)
Lightweight, competitive, and easy to transport and assemble

This turbine’s most distinguishing characteristics include its light weight, despite its size – a 120-metre tower and blades with a diameter exceeding 62.5 metres-; the competitiveness of its cost of energy (CoE); its ease of transport and assembly, comparable to that of a 2.0 MW turbine thanks to its segmented blade -unique in the world- and innovations such as the FlexiFit, a crane coupled to the nacelle and used as a tool for assembling and servicing the turbine.

Gamesa sought to design a segmented blade (the InnoBlade) that could be assembled in the field and whose weight and aerodynamic features would out-class those of existing blades.

For the tower, the company developed a concrete/steel hybrid solution based on prefabricated modules assembled onsite. The nacelle is delivered to the wind farm equipped with the minimum components required for transport, leaving assembly of the transformer and refrigeration system to be completed in the field. The nacelle is placed atop the tower in a similar fashion to the assembly of a standard 2-MW turbine. The drive train and generator are then fitted using the FlexiFit system.
Manufacturing rollout in 2012 and state-of-the-art infrastructure

The Gamesa G128-4.5 MW’s certification represents a milestone that makes the turbine a reality, though series units have rolled off production lines for several months. The manufacturing process will begin in earnest in 2012, thanks to deals Gamesa has landed to install the turbines at wind farms in Europe.

Gamesa will produce the turbine’s key elements, from the generator to the gearbox, converter, blades, auxiliary cabinets and gondola assembly. Some of these components required the company to develop new infrastructure, turning its manufacturing plants into state-of-the-art facilities. These include the Aoiz (Navarra) plant, built to cater for production of the new turbine’s blades, and other investments used to expand and adapt facilities for manufacturing nacelles (Tauste, Aragon); drive trains (Asteasu, Basque Country; Lerma, Burgos); generators (Reinosa – Cantabria) and converters (voltage electronics) in Benifalló, Valencia and Coslada, Madrid.

Gamesa is thinking about the posibility of producing the G128-4.5 MW in other markets, such as USA and China, depending on the demand.
Record electricity output by a turbine in Spain

The initial prototype of the G128-4.5 MW connected to and delivered its first kilowatts to the Spanish power grid in April 2009. Since early this year, the turbine has delivered more than 6 GWh, with an availability above 97%.

The highest electricity output in Spain by a single turbine (a total of 98.26 MW/h) was recorded on 1 June 2011 by a Gamesa turbine, the G128-4.5 MW, operating at 100% availability at a wind farm in Jaulín (Aragon). The same turbine accounted for two further generation milestones in the Spanish market this year: 8 October 2011 and 1 March 2011 saw the second- and third-highest electricity output from a single turbine in Spain (96.48 MW/h and 95.19 MW/h, respectively).

The energy produced by just one Gamesa G10X-4.5 MW machine helps to generate an environmentally-benign energy source by preventing the release of polluting atmospheric emissions. The annual output of a single turbine can supply electricity to 3,169 households per year, replace approximately 1,000 tonnes of oil equivalent (toe/year) and prevent atmospheric CO2 emissions of 6,750 tonnes annually.
Six technological innovations

Gamesa InnoBlade® A modular blade design composed of two sections with new aerodynamic features developed to lessen noise and maximise output
Gamesa CompacTrain® A drive train with a semi-integrated main shaft and a two-stage gearbox with no high-speed rotating components
Gamesa GridMate® This modular electric system enables partial operation of the system and isolates the mechanical train from load surges caused by voltage drops, ensuring the most demanding network codes of the market
Gamesa FlexiFit® A crane coupled to the nacelle which affords greater flexibility to assembly and service activities
Gamesa ConcreTower® A hybrid concrete/steel tower made up of prefabricated segments for ease of transport and assembly
Gamesa MultiSmart® This multivariable control system enables load reduction of up to 30% on some components.

By José Santamarta,