Vestas introduced the company's latest and greatest for the offshore wind industry – the V164-7.0 MW wind turbine in London today. This is the biggest and most powerful wind turbine in the company's product portfolio. The turbine sports a rotor diameter of 164 meters (80 meter blades), and reaches 187 meters in height, at the highest blade tip position. It was orginally going to be a 6 MW unit, but Vestas kept the actual capacity away from the public and gave us all a little surprise.
The V164 has more power than any of the recently announced big offshore wind turbines, such as the new Gamesa G11X-5.0 MW which Gamesa is developing with Northrop Grumman. Here's Vestas' video promoting the new model, putting it in perspective against large objects such as the London Eye or the Gherkin:
The V164 is especially aimed at the offshore market because the wind energy industry has to move towards bigger and more powerful if it's going to bring the price of wind generated electricity down, and make it more competitive with other forms of power generation. The strongest and most consistent wind conditions are found in the open sea, but this requires larger turbines which can capture more of the wind's energy. Additionally, the renewable energy targets set by various countries around the planet, and especially in Europe, require a large-scale approach if they are going to be met. Interestingly, the V164 was developed through two parallel R&D paths, one aiming for a direct drive solution, the other for a geared transmission solution. The outcome is somewhere in the middle, as the new turbine features a medium-speed drive train solution. The development process included feedback from customers as well. Another interesting feature of the turbine is that it's 80% recyclable, according to Vestas. The first V164 is to be constructed in Q4 2012, much at the same time as Gamesa's 5 MW offshore unit is to start spinning for the first time. Vestas expects serial production of the V164 to begin in 2015, although the company will wait until a substantial backorder reserve is formed, justifying the large investments Vestas needs to make into new production capacity capable of producing this giant.