* Has applied for permission to test 10 MW turbines
* Says has no immediate plans to develop the turbines
* Siemens plans 10 MW turbine for later this decade
By Shida Chayesteh
COPENHAGEN, July 11 Denmark's Vestas is
seeking a green light from the government to test the largest
offshore wind turbine yet, papers submitted to local government
show, in a bid to catch up with rival Siemens at the
new frontier of wind energy.
Although Vestas said it had no immediate plans to develop
them, the documents show it has applied for permission to set up
test turbines of up to 10 megawatt (MW) in waters west of
Jutland, the part of Denmark linked to continental Europe.
That is a quarter more powerful than the 8 MW turbine Vestas
is testing now and which could power 7,500 homes a year.
Vestas is developing these turbines together with Japan's
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) as part of their MHI
Vestas Offshore joint venture.
Vestas is the world's largest wind turbine maker based on
its market share for windmills on land but it has fallen behind
in the race for the fledgling offshore market.
The industry is developing larger and larger turbines that
can be placed further offshore, where the wind potential is
greater and prospects of public resistance are smaller.
"We will not make any comment now on the precise development
plans for future wind turbines, but we are always looking to
optimize our platforms," Chief Executive of the joint venture,
Jens Tommerup, said in an email to Reuters, adding that the
focus now was on the 8 MW turbine.
The documents submitted to the Ringkobing-Skjern commune, on
the west coast of Jutland, relate to tests of the 8 MW turbine
but show a request to be allowed to install 10 MW units.
Siemens, which plans to unveil a 10 MW offshore turbine by
the end of the decade, extended its offshore lead over Vestas
last year, with a European market share of 60 percent, data from
the European Wind Energy Association showed.
But Vestas has a habit of surprising the industry with its
investments. In 2011 it unveiled a 7 MW turbine when investors
had expected a 6 MW unit, before announcing that the turbine
would then run at 8 MW.
It's most powerful turbine in service has a capacity of 3.3
MW and stands at between 140-190 metres, depending on its
location, with the capacity to power 3,300 homes.
The 8 MW turbine has a tip height of about 220 metres with
164-metre rotors that have a sweep area of more than 21,000
square metres, equal to three football pitches. Siemens' 6 MW
offshore turbine has 154-metre rotors.
A 10 MW turbine would have a rotor diameter of up to 200
metres and an overall height of up to 250 metres, according to
Siemens was Europe's top offshore supplier last year,
installing 1,249 wind turbines compared with just 574 turbines
Britain and Denmark are Europe's leading offshore wind
markets, with installed capacities of 3.68 gigawatts (GW) and
1.27 GW respectively. In Denmark, 33-34 percent of electricity
is provided by wind farms and the government wants to increase
that to 50 percent by 2020.
(Editing by Sabina Zawadzki and Mark Potter)