Work on commissioning the direct drive turbines has now begun and the demonstration project is expected to start generating electricity in spring 2013.
Two prototypes have already been installed onshore in Høvsøre and Østerild, Denmark, at DTU's national wind turbine test centre, but this project is the first time the 6-MW turbines have been tested offshore......
Siemens had previously signed a framework agreement with DONG Energy to deliver 300 of the 6-MW turbines for use in DONG’s projects in the U.K., many of which are proposed for deeper waters. The turbines are to be delivered between 2014 and 2017. "The agreement with Siemens will enable DONG Energy to install a significantly larger turbine from 2014 compared to the turbines we use today," said Paul Childs, DONG Energy Wind Power’s U.K. communications manager......
When asked whether Siemens expects to make any major revisions to the 6-MW turbine’s design, Stiesdal was emphatic: "No. We have not seen anything in the prototypes that justifies significant changes." He said the company will make tweaks only, such as ergonomics or changes to the heating and cooling systems.
So is Siemens leaning toward using direct drive technology in all its future offshore designs? Stiesdal says unambiguously, "Yes. It’s on the drawing board because that’s how the world is: with a bigger machine, direct drive becomes even more attractive. It scales very well, which yields a big benefit. Bigger is better in terms of economy."
The U.K.’s Round Three projects are in deeper waters and will have much larger capacities than existing wind farms, so larger turbines will be needed. There are only two currently operational wind turbines with a higher-rated capacity than the Siemens 6-MW turbine: a 7.5-MW turbine from Enercon and a 6.15-MW turbine from REpower. Neither is a dedicated offshore machine."
This article clearly shows that the demand for magnet alloys, particularly in Europe, will continue to grow, in part because as we saw in an earlier post regarding Vestas, another Danish company:
"Vestas uses approximately 68kg of neodymium in the permanent-magnet generator for a V112- 3.0 MW wind turbine. In addition an amount of around 14kg of neodymium is used in the tower magnet, bringing it to a total of 82kg neodymium used for one V112- 3.0 MW as well as 7kg dysprosium.
The use of 14kg rare earths elements in the V112-3.0 MW tower magnets (of 84m height) results in a saving of around 10 tonnes steel in the tower per wind turbine. This equates to a saving of around 8.0 tonnes of CO2 equivalents over the entire life cycle - i.e. accounting for the potential environmental impacts of the magnets and steel production, use and end-of-life recycling and disposal.
It is important to understand the difference between different types of turbine designs and how each design uses rare earths elements. There are two types of turbine drive train concepts using rare earth elements: conventional geared drive train and direct-drive (without a gearbox) .The amount of rare earths elements used in direct-drive turbines is substantially higher- up to 10 times as much as a generator in a conventional drive train.."
The point here is that the future, particularly of off- shore wind farms, is in the highly reliable and low maintenance 6 MW and above direct drive turbines, which require higher levels of REE content to achieve those goals. Looks to be a good market in which to be an ROW, secure supply line supplier of custom and cost efficient magnet alloys, eh?