When Iberdrola builds its offshore wind farm off the coast of Connecticut in the middle of the next decade, it plans to use more powerful wind turbines than currently exist in the market.
The Spanish company Avangrid Inc. won an auction to develop the 804 megawatt wind farm in a joint venture with Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. The group plans to use a wind turbine of at least 14 megawatts, larger than any wind turbine currently available, said Jonathan Cole, head of offshore wind power at Iberdrola.
“It will be greater than what we see in the market today,” Cole said in a telephone interview. “We’re going to look for ways to scale up.”
The largest wind turbine on the market today is the 12-megawatt Haliade-X from General Electric Co.X. Each shovel is 107 meters long, which exceeds the Statue of Liberty, which is about 93 meters high, including the pedestal and the torch. It is also longer than the wingspan of the Airbus SE A380, which can reach 80 meters.
The machine is still in the testing phase, but has already received contracts for offshore wind farms in the United States and the United Kingdom, including what could be the largest project in the world.
The power of that wind turbine could theoretically be increased by optimizing the interior without the need to design a physically larger machine. According to historical trends of diameter-to-rotor power output, the current GE platform could easily reach 14 megawatts or even more, while competitors Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy SA and MHI Vestas Offshore Wind A / S would be less likely, according to BloombergNEF wind analyst Tom Harries.
Cole said the company has not made a final decision on which turbine supplier it will choose.
The increasing size of the wind turbines has been a key factor in the ability of the offshore wind energy industry to reduce costs. In Europe, it has helped lower the energy prices of wind farms at sea to cost levels that are now competitive with fossil fuels. Some developers are planning projects without government subsidies.
In the United States, where offshore wind power is still virtually non-existent, prices are higher. But this year several states have hired large projects as they seek to reduce carbon emissions. Cole expects costs to fall much faster in the United States than in Europe and to reach market parity within five years.
“Marine wind power will compete with all forms of electricity generation, particularly in that northeast area,” said Cole. “You will see many efficiencies that will lower the price.”