Blade technology: Gamesa cleans up

Enrique García, Gamesa’s Fibramatic Chief Engineer, explains how Gamesa has resolved transportation issues for the world’s longest wind turbine blade, and how blade O&M has been designed in.

Image: Gamesa

Interview by Rikki Stancich

For the second year running, Gamesa has won JEC’s Innovation prize in the wind energy category. The company swept up the award last week in Paris for its G128-4.5 MW turbine suite's modular blade - the longest in the onshore segment, at 62.5 metres.

Wind Energy Update contacts Enrique García, Gamesa’s Fibramatic Chief Engineer to learn more about the company’s unique modular ‘Innoblade’ and other innovative solutions such as the FlexiFit crane attached to the nacelle that acts as an assembly and O&M tool.

Wind Energy Update: Gamesa recently won JEC's innovation award for its G128-4.5 MW turbine suite's 62.5 metre (the world's longest) modular ‘Innoblade’ blade. What are the Innoblades' most outstanding features from an operational perspective?

Enrique García: The G10X is a 4.5 MW wind turbine that was conceived to be assembled in the same locations as our mainstream G9X wind turbine and to be at least as cost efficient in terms of cost of energy as that wind turbine (already a leader in its class).

This led to the design of our award-winning G128 with Innoblade Technologies. The blade is modular, but it is also extremely lightweight for its length thanks to the use of carbon.

Wind Energy Update: What features of the blade lend themselves to O&M?

Enrique García: A multidisciplinary team including experts from O&M worked on the design since its inception to make sure that robustness was maximized while keeping manufacturing and maintenance costs at a minimum.

Wind Energy Update: How does the blade's modularity resolve transportation and installation issues?

Enrique García: The blades’ modularity allowed them to arrive virtually to the same wind farm sites accessible to Gamesa’s mainstream G9X (2 MW). The blade is transported in two parts and assembled directly on site with non-expensive but fully reliable tools. Once the blade is assembled Gamesa’s proprietary Flexifit crane mounts the blades one by one on the wind turbine (no additional cranes are needed).

Wind Energy Update: What other issues does the blade design resolve?

Enrique García: Aside from transportation and installation, the blade is key to guaranteeing a minimum cost of energy (CoE). The extremely light blade reduces overall loads transmitted to the other wind turbine components, which allows for a radical overall cost reduction when compared to wind turbines with similar power capabilities.

Wind Energy Update: What wind types are these blades optimised for?

Enrique García: The blade is designed and optimized for Class II wind sites, but Gamesa is already working on new blade models with the same Innoblade technology for other wind classes.

Wind Energy Update: What challenges do blade designers currently face (noise reduction, low wind resource) and how is Gamesa addressing these?

Enrique García: The main challenges our designers are facing are the need for blades with ever increasing lengths with two important boundary conditions: extremely high structural reliability and minimum costs (both manufacturing and maintenance costs).

For this Gamesa continues to develope in-house state-of-the-art tools to reliably model noise, aerodynamic and structural loads that guarantee further optimization.

To respond to this article, please write to the Editor: Rikki Stancich