Siemens Gamesa and GE Wrestle Over Biggest TurbineBy Cas Biekmann | Thu, 05/28/2020 - 17:35
Offshore, strong winds are blowing. It is therefore no surprise that wind is an interesting form of energy generation. But to drive down energy costs, the most efficient technology needs to be applied by project developers. Siemens Gamesa is aiming to narrowly beat GE in building the biggest windmill available, based on a report from Bloomberg News. Experts from MBN provide insight into how Mexico might not be ready to benefit from offshore developments, yet. Nonetheless, developments spurred by the race to the top might change this situation.
Who Has the Biggest Turbine?
At the core of making wind turbines more efficient is their size. Both Siemens Gamesa and GE noted that size matters when it comes to rotor diameters and have therefore set out to improve on this front. Siemens Gamesa’s new windmill, the SG 14-222 DD, will provide 14MW per turbine. The rotor boasts a diameter of 728ft or 222m. This means it is 2m bigger than GE’s turbine; a small margin, which suggests the industry has not seen the last of this duel. GE’s Haliade-X turbine was introduced in 2018, providing 12MW of power. It is proving to be a popular product and will likely stay in its leading position for a few years to come.
Siemens predicts its SG prototype will be ready in 2021 and available to the market in 2024. “My ambition and the ambition of Siemens Gamesa is to stay above 50 percent of world market share. That requires winning at least half of all projects in the world, winning more than everyone else together,” told Andreas Nauen, CEO of Siemens Gamesa Offshore to Bloomberg News. Offshore wind is a heavily contested battlefield. Projects are often massive in size but due to the special conditions needed to make them successful, there are precious few in development.
Siemens Gamesa Reaches for the Top
The environment seems to be rapidly changing for wind turbine manufacturing market leader Siemens Gamesa. Not too long ago, Mexico Energy Review interviewed Jorge Lobatón, Managing Director Mexico and Latin America of Siemens Gamesa, after the company was created via a merger of Siemens Wind Power and Gamesa. The company is thriving in Mexico: “Siemens Gamesa operates a large installed fleet, enabling us to offer better construction, development and O&M services and equipment through economies of scale, together with the administration and operation of those assets,” Lobatón said. Recently, Siemens decided to acquire the 8.1 percent share In Siemens Gamesa that Iberdrola previously owned, reported El País. This will free Siemens Gamesa from costs related to the shareholder agreement and give it a majority in the annual general meeting. Iberdrola and Siemens, however, remain strong partners in different projects.
Can Mexico Benefit from These Developments?
Wind energy remains a strong prospect for Mexico. José Luis Calvo, Minister for Environment, Energy and Sustainable Development of the State of Oaxaca (SEMAEDESO), told MBN about the success the state has had with wind projects. This is the case in other places such as Campeche as well, said José María Cu Cañetas, Director General of The Energy Agency of the State of Campeche. But for all of Mexico’s wind prowess, the offshore area remains unattractive at the moment. Despite promising reports from NREL about offshore wind potential on the US side of the Gulf of Mexico, MBN experts do not think Mexico is there, yet. “It is an interesting topic for sure. For the moment, it is not viable, but perhaps in the future. To make a project viable, you need around 9 to 10m/s wind speeds on a yearly basis. This is only achieved far from the shore in the Gulf of Mexico, where building projects is difficult. Instead, going to a place like Oaxaca on the Pacific Coast, there is a lot of wind available only a few meters offshore. With the current technology available it would make more sense to construct projects closer to the shore,” said Jorge Ochoa, Country Manager Mexico of UL Renewables in Mexico. Raúl Carral, Business Development Executive for Mexico, Central America & Carribean of Wärtsilä agrees that although natural resources are available, the current business environment does not favor these projects in the Mexican context. Both, however, agree that with new developments, anything is possible further in the future.