Putting the Wind up the Competition

In the wind energy sector, manufacturers are under a lot of pressure to boost the electricity output of their wind turbines per kilowatt of power.

Windmills, old and new

Windmills, old and new

Image: Energising the future

'While this sector is focusing mainly on the expansion of large wind turbines, we are deliberately targeting the medium-sized segment, of up to 1 MW', says Rob van de Veerdonk, Chief Marketing & Sales Officer at Emergya Wind Technologies (EWT) . 'We specialise in projects involving height restrictions, for example, or where the power is consumed locally.'

EWT aims to optimise generation costs by enlarging the rotor in the turbine. Mr van de Veerdonk explains: 'By developing a 61-metre diameter rotor (instead of a 54-metre one) we can generate more energy with what is effectively the same machine. We are doing this for clients in the Netherlands, the UK, and the USA, as well as in Turkey and other emerging markets.'

Demonstrate and certify

Partly with the support of the Energy Innovation Demonstration programme (DEI), an operational prototype of the DIRECTWIND-61 (DW61) was erected at a test site in Lelystad at the end of September last year. 'A demo model is crucial', adds Mr. van de Veerdonk. 'Its purpose is not only to enable potential customers to familiarise themselves with the physical aspects of the DW61, but also to enable us to obtain the necessary certifications. To meet the requirements, measurements must be done over a period of seven or eight months of various wind speeds, power levels, noise levels, material stresses, etc. The question of whether or not we are awarded certification will be decided by an independent German certifying body. In this way, customers can be certain that this is a good product.'

Ambition

'The DW61 will be one of our most important products. An additional advantage is that it contributes to the goals of the Energy Agreement, to our own position, and to the position of Dutch exports in general. We are the largest wind turbine manufacturer in the Netherlands, but we want to keep on growing. In technical terms, our goal for next summer is to confirm that the turbine actually does what we designed it to do, in terms of both yield and noise level. It is a fundamental further development of our existing turbine platform that offers more refined fine-tuning capabilities, delivering an improved energy yield.'

Preliminary research is key

'A demonstration project is often launched because designs on paper are not really convincing. Clients want to see and touch the actual product, and they usually want to see test results too. That involves a lot of money. So, solid preliminary research is essential to make it possible to get subsidy support. You have to sort certain things out. What are the standards in your sector? Is your product development in keeping with the available subsidies? Based on this, you can push ahead with the subsequent procedures.'