TOKYO -- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is working on the world's largest offshore wind turbine, one with output capable of reaching 10,000kW, and could install it as early as 2020.
The giant piece of equipment will offer better cost efficiency, and the Japanese company expects to be able to sell it to power companies in Europe.
As economies around the world shift away from fossil-fuel-fired power plants, the price of electricity from offshore wind facilities is falling. As the trend takes hold, the market for large, more cost-efficient wind turbines is expected to grow.
In Europe, the price of a megawatt is about 50 euros ($57), a third of what it was a few years ago.
Mitsubishi Heavy is not alone in creating bigger turbines. Industry players can significantly reduce the construction costs of offshore wind facilities by producing larger generators.
For example, today they might supply a 300,000kW offshore facility with 50 windmills, each of which can output 6,000kW. But in the future, they would only have to build 60% of that number, if each is able to output 10,000kW.
If Mitsubishi Heavy can introduce its giant wind turbine around 2020, it will gain a head start on global rivals like General Electric of the U.S. and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, a joint venture between Germany's Siemens and Spain's Gamesa.
Siemens Gamesa is the world's top-ranked turbine maker, and GE is No. 2.
These companies are planning to introduce over-10,000kW turbines after 2020.
Wind turbines with larger blades have more output. Building them larger also reduces construction costs.
The challenge is sturdiness. In 2017, the largest turbines could output around 9,000kW. This is triple the 3,000kW in 2013.
Mitsubishi Heavy's plan is to develop a 10,000kW turbine through MHI Vestas Offshore Wind, a joint venture between Mitsubishi Heavy and Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems, which is the world's second largest offshore wind turbine maker.
The joint venture perfected a 9,500kW model, the world's largest, in 2017, for which it has received orders totaling the equivalent of some 2.6 million kW.
General Electric is developing a 12,000kW turbine under a $400 million project, aiming to introduce it as early as 2021. Siemens Gamesa has announced a plan to complete an over-10,000kW model by 2024 or 2025.