Wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa (Madrid, Spain), a global technology and the Newport News Shipbuilding operations of Northrop Grumman Corp. (Newport News, Va., USA) on Oct. 6 signed an agreement to work together on offshore wind technology.
The agreement calls for the companies to cooperate on the launch of Gamesa’s first G11X-5.0 MW offshore prototype in the U.S., using Gamesa's multi-megawatt technology and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding’s experience in challenging marine environments.
Gamesa is currently designing and developing a G11X-5.0 MW offshore wind turbine, specifically for the marine environment, built upon the technologies already extensively tested and validated in the G10X-4.5 MW platform. Gamesa is teaming with Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-Newport News to use its proven expertise in heavy load logistics, systems performance and reliability and the applications of such technologies in the marine environment.
Gamesa and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding said they are setting up an initial team of as many as 40 engineers in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia over the next month. This team will perform all of the preliminary work required to install in the U.S. the first Gamesa G11X-5.0 MW offshore prototype by fourth quarter 2012, including site selection, permitting, final construction and installation of the prototype and testing.
"Gamesa has said before that it intends to play a significant role in the offshore market to ensure that it can tap the demand generated in the Northern European market, specifically the United Kingdom, starting in 2015, as well in the United States. Our alliance with Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-Newport News will give us the opportunity to test our technology on a short-term horizon, as well as to enhance and strengthen it, thanks to the skills and experience offered by a global leader in naval structures,” said Dirk Matthys, CEO of Gamesa in the U.S. “This partnership further demonstrates Gamesa’s continuing commitment to and expansion in the North American market with both land and sea based wind turbine technology.”
Matthew J. Mulherin, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-Newport News, said, “we are pleased to collaborate with Gamesa, a world leader in the wind turbine industry, as we work together to launch and install a new generation of offshore wind turbine systems.”
This announcement by Gamesa and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding comes as federal and state governments intensify their focus on developing offshore wind energy. Offshore wind projects totaling more than 5,000 MW have been proposed and are in the planning or development stages in the United States.
The turbine and foundation systems created by Gamesa and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding -Newport News address the market’s main concerns, namely efficiency of civil engineering infrastructures (the number one investment expense in offshore wind), turbine reliability, low maintenance and servicing requirements and minimizing the cost of generating electricity.
New generations of offshore turbine systems offering higher installed capacity will be required to meet the expected rising demand in the offshore wind energy market in the medium and long term. To this end, Gamesa is already working on the rollout of another family of offshore turbines, featuring a capacity of 6-7 MW, with a pre-series potentially available in 2014.