ATLANTIC CITY — The 1,100 megawatt Ocean Wind offshore wind farm to be built off the coast here will deploy a new generation 12 megawatt turbine that will be the largest and most powerful in the world, according to the developer of the project.
GE Renewable Energy will supply the newly developed turbines to the Atlantic City project, which will be the third largest wind farm in the world and open in 2024, Danish company Ørsted announced Thursday.
In March 2018, GE announced it was embarking on producing the world’s first 12 MW turbine, which some in the industry said could not be done.
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While Ørsted recently announced it will mainly transmit Ocean Wind’s electricity into the grid at the closed Oyster Creek nuclear plant in Lacey Township, it also is still looking at sending some power through other New Jersey locations.
“There are a couple of other options we are looking at, including B.L. England,” Thomas Brostrøm, CEO of Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind, said of the closed electric generating plant in Beesleys Point, Upper Township.
Oyster Creek’s facility can only take 800 of the 1,100 MW the wind farm will generate, he said.
Ørsted will first use the 12 MW turbiens on Ørsted’s much smaller 120 MW Skipjack wind farm off Maryland, expected to be in operation by 2022. Skipjack and Ocean Wind will be the world’s first commercial deployment of GE’s Haliade-X 12 MW offshore wind turbine, according to Ørsted.
“Basically, 8 MW to 9.5 MW or 10 MW turbines have been used recently,” Brostrøm said, compared to the GE machines at 12 MW. “With the introduction of 12 MW, it is going to be the biggest machine ever deployed — the most powerful machines in the world.”
Ørsted was the first to deploy an 8 MW turbine in 2016. A 12 MW platform represents a 50% increase in power output per unit, according to the company.
The new units are bigger in megawatts generated and capacity and rotor diameter, he said.
“It’s how much wind can you capture?” Brostrøm said. “There’s a balance there.”
The GE turbine has a rotor diameter of 220 meters (722 feet). Each blade is 107 meters (351 feet) long, sweeping a total area of 38.000 square meters (409,000 square feet), according to Ørsted.
To put it in perspective, the company said turbines available in 1991 when Ørsted constructed the world’s first offshore wind farm in Europe only had a capacity to generate 0.45 MW. Back then, a 600 MW offshore wind farm would have required more than 1,300 wind turbines.
Using 12 MW turbines, 600 MW can be achieved with only 50 units. Technological improvements have made producing offshore wind much cheaper, Brostrøm said.
There is some risk to using a new generation turbine.
“We’ve done years of technical due diligence, so we are comfortable and confident in the machine,” Brostrøm said. “And we will set up and deploy them on Skipjack the first 10 turbines.”
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Ørsted will get calibration and learn from that, and factor it in before deploying in the much larger Ocean Wind project, which will use 90 turbines.
The United State’s first wind farm, a 30 MW facility now operated by Ørsted, used 6 MW turbines, said Lauren Burm of Ørsted. It was built in 2016 off Block Island, Rhode Island.
GE Offshore Wind CEO John Lavelle said the company saw the offshore wind market growing globally and looked at where GE could use its strengths to create unique products and drive down the costs of producing green energy.
“It resulted in a bigger, more powerful and efficient machine,” Lavelle said, using a “regimented, step-by-step process.”
By the time GE announced it would produce the world’s first 12 MW turbine, the company already had done about 12 months of technological development,” Lavelle said.
“We already had a lot of design concepts under way before GE management would say ‘we approve’ — before GE was comfortable, we knew what we were doing,” he said.
The company brought in some of the best minds from across GE, based in the U.S. and several other countries, to help.
“Now that we are completing the prototype and have that installed, we start the design validation phase and operate and test for another year,” Lavelle said.
In about two years, the company will start to produce the first tubines for Skipjack, he said, then for the Ocean Wind project.
Turbines are likely to keep getting bigger, Lavelle said.
“I never say never. You always can figure out a way,” Lavelle said, citing ongoing technological developments likely to come out of GE’s Technological Global Reserach Center in the near future.
“We may invent something in the labs — come up with something completely different in 10 years,” Lavelle said.
Brostrøm said Ørsted is now getting all the necessary permits for the project and will start construction in the early 2020s. That’s when the region will start to see job creation really pick up, he said.
“We are super excited to bring a third supplier into the industry in a big way,” Brostrøm said of GE. “It has been Siemans and MHI Vestas forever. A strong company like GE stepping in to the U.S. offshore market is a big thing for us,” making the supply chain more robust and adding competition to the field.
In the U.S. alone, seven states on the East Coast have committed to building a total of 20 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2035, according to Ørsted.
In the U.S., Ørsted has been awarded the rights to build offshore wind farms to serve the markets of Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York and Connecticut. They will have a total capacity of about 2.9 gigawatts and will be built by 2024, the company said.