Wind turbines as powerful as 20MW are in the scope of a mobile grid simulator system under development in Germany, in another sign of the momentum to huge future machines.

The Mobil-Grid-CoP system is designed to allow testing in the field for grid compliance and performance against range of system events, said The Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems (IWES), citing “future turbine sizes, especially offshore, [that] demand an output in excess of 15MW, which cannot be provided by today’s test benches”.

The Mobil-Grid-CoP – part-funded with €12.7m ($13.7m) from the German energy ministry for a three-year project – will be connected directly to the grid connection point at a test site, said IWES. “The 80 MVA grid simulator enables the testing of objects up to an output of 20MW, meaning that even entire wind farms and strings can be measured.”

The German project is the latest signal of a move towards wind turbine ratings that would have been seen as unreachable just a few weeks ago, with projects already being planned with 15MW machines in mind.

The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) last week released a reference offshore wind turbine design with a 15MW nameplate capacity for both fixed-bottom and floating applications.

Rare-earth-free permanent magnet generators (PMG) for offshore wind turbines with nameplates of 20MW are expected to be a reality “within three years”, technology pioneer GreenSpur Wind told Recharge late last year.

The most powerful wind turbine currently nearing commercial deployment is the 12MW GE Haliade-X , but several OEMs are known to be working on projects to push that up further.

Recharge revealed how Siemens Gamesa recently protected technology associated with its hotly-anticipated ‘1X’ offshore wind turbine concept – widely expected to be one of a fleet of next-generation machines in the nameplate range of 14-16MW.