MHI to press on with SeaAngel

Mitsubishi’s ambitious development plans for its 7MW SeaAngel offshore turbine will not be derailed by the Vestas joint venture, Recharge has learned.

The Japanese manufacturer’s flagship machine is still on track for installation at the Hunterston Test Centre for Offshore Wind in Scotland before deployment as part of a floating demonstration unit off Fukushima, Japan.

“The development continues on its original trajectory – that is, it has not been negatively impacted by the JV,” says Mitsubishi Power Systems Europe (MPSE) senior manager for renewables Pete Clusky.

“For us to be able to offer the DDT [digital displacement transmission] drive-train technology at a later date we have to stick with our current plan.”

“It makes best sense to continue developing it until it reaches a stage of technology readiness.”

Mitsubishi’s buy-in to the DDT technology – a concept first hatched by Scottish renewable-energy colossus Stephen Salter and later fine-tuned by Edinburgh’s Artemis Intelligent Power that streamlines drive-train architecture by doing away with the gearbox, frequency converter and transformer – is based in large part on its scaleability for even larger turbines than are currently being built.

“We believe in the future that it will be easier to scale up [DDT technology rather the geared or direct-drive transmissions] for turbines larger than the 7MW,” says Clusky.

Mitsubishi, he adds, has some “big options” on the drawing board, although he would not be drawn on a nameplate capacity figure.

Jens Tommerup, CEO of the newly-formed JV, told Recharge: "In the short term the JV will be based on Vestas technologies and products. In the long term we have said we will look at integrating MHI's DDT technology and other technologies.

"In offshore, technologies have to be thoroughly proven and tested, and this needs to happen as closely as possible with customers."