The world’s first fully assembled 6MW offshore wind turbine went up last week, erected in the North Sea by German renewables giant REpower, in conjunction with Belgium’s C-Power NV. The 6.15MW (to be precise) REpower 6M turbine – the first of 48 for the Thornton Bank II wind farm that is being constructed approximately 28 kilometers off the Belgian coast – went up in the early hours of Wednesday March 21, marking the first installment of phase 2 of the joint offshore wind project. As Nation of Change notes, REpower has an interesting interactive image on its site which lets you explore the turbine’s 11 main features. Here are some worth mentioning: the dimensions of the turbine are equal to two family homes; the turbine’s rotor star has a diameter of 126 meters; its swept area is greater than two football fields; the turbines stand in waters between 12 and 27 meters deep; and since the Thornton Bank II offshore wind farm officially went into operation (at the end of June 2009) it has generated almost 350,000MWh of electricity. The installation of the first 30 turbines for phase 2 of the wind farm is planned for this year (phase 1 was constructed in 2008 and 2009), while a further 18 are set to go up during a third extension stage by mid-2013. It includes 5-MW wind turbines. Belgium intends to get 13 per cent of its energy from renewable energy sources by 2020.
Kenyan wind project comes into view
Meanwhile, in Africa, the group behind what will be the continent’s largest wind farm has announced that construction on the €585 million, 300MW project will begin in June this year. AFP reports that after seven years of negotiations, a start-date is set for June, once risk guarantees from the Ida and Miga financial institutions – part of the World Bank Group – are finalised. The project site, Lake Turkana, Kenya – which CleanTechnica points out is a region better known for containing some of the earliest hominid remains – will become home to 365 wind turbines that will generate grid-connected electricity to meet more than 20 per cent of the country’s power needs. The Dutch-led consortium behind the project, the Lake Turkana Wind Power Group, plans to sell the electricity to national utility Kenya Power for 20 years at 7.52 euro cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), a rate that, along with Kenya’s geothermal power, is the lowest in the country, says the AFP report. “Here you can produce wind power at an interesting cost, without subsidies,” said Carlo Van Wageningen, head of the consortium, marking the contrast with Europe.
The Lake Turkana Wind Farm will use Vestas V52 wind turbines, each with a capacity of 850 kW, via a $756 million contract with the Danish wind giant – 50MW is scheduled to come on-line in mid-2014 with the balance due for commissioning in early 2015. The €585 million project will also involve building a 428km transmission line that will link the wind farm to the national grid, a task that’s being undertaken by Spain’s Isolux Corsan. But before all this can be done, and once the final finance hurdle is cleared, the consortium’s first step will be to build road access to the isolated site for the transport of the equipment and materials, an task the group estimates will require around 12,000 trips.
Blowing hot and cold
US cleantech start-up Clean Wind Energy Tower announced last week that it has chosen San Luis, Arizona, as the site for installation of its first two Downdraft Towers – the company’s innovative, virtually zero-carbon technology that it says will use both induced and natural wind energy to generate reliable renewable electricity at a utility-scale for sale to the grid. According to the company’s current design plans, each Downdraft Tower is expected to be able to generate as much as 2,500MW per hour of electricity, but with around one third of this used to run the tower itself, its net potential energy yield would be between 1,100-1,500 MW per hour. Clean Wind Energy Tower says the Towers’ prime production periods are daytime and evening in the spring, summer and fall.
But while the technology all sounds very promising, CleanTechnica reports the the financial side of things aren’t exactly going swimmingly for the Nasdaq-listed company. Its shares have taken a nose dive in the past couple of months, trading from a high of 21 cents down to about 4.5 cents per share at market close on March 23. This dip below 8 cents a share triggered a default clause on a $335,000 Original Issue Discount Secured Convertible Promissory Note it had issued to Hanover Holdings, a transaction that closed on March 2. The effect of all this has been to put extra strain on a thinning bottom line, and to jeopardise the company’s survival, “along with that of the project that could prove its design and engineering concept and economic viability,” says CleanTechnica.
Start your engines: GE technology to power Vic cogen plant
In Victoria, GE has announced that one of its natural gas-fired Jenbacher gas engines is being used to power a cogeneration plant that is planned as part of a major urban revitalisation initiative in the suburb of Dandenong. The plant, built by project owner Cogent Energy, will use a 2MW, J612 Jenbacher cogen unit – supplied by Australian distributor Clarke Energy Australia and shipped to the site in January – for Phase 1 of the new power facility, which could be expanded to 6 MW; commercial operation is set to begin this year. GE says its gas engine is expected to save the equivalent of about 9,900 tonnes of carbon emissions a year – equivalent to the removal of more than 5,500 cars from the road, it says. The cogen plant aims to reduce the emissions and energy use of the Dandedong Commercial District by reducing its reliance on energy from the grid. It will also have the capacity to produce surplus hot water, which Cogent Energy will then sell back to local commercial buildings to provide cooling via building owner-supplied absorption chillers. Rafael Santana, CEO and president, Gas Engines for GE Energy, says Australia represents an important growth region for the industrial giant for distributed power applications – including industrial cogeneration – “to bring the sources of energy production closer to end-users.” GE’s Jenbacher gas engines are designed to run soley on a variety of gases, which the company says results in high levels of generator efficiency, reliability and environmental performance.