Gamesa, the manufacturer and developer of wind turbines and wind farm, held its inaugural 2010 Patents and Inventors Contest, an annual event recognising the effort and hard work of its employees in a field essential to the company's technological development.
The 2004-2008 winning entry is a “blade insert” patent for the joining of a segmented blade (unique on the market), which allowed Gamesa to develop its trademarked Innoblade® for the G10X-4.5 MW turbine system (the most powerful wind turbine on the onshore market). Additionally, this development allowed the company to manufacture a 62.5-metre-long blade for a turbine which offers unit capacity of 4.5 MW yet has the logistical constraints of a 2-MW turbine. The prize rewards the significant technological advantage posed by this patent, which permits the production of segmented blades and the handling of long blade spans. The patent’s inventors are Ion Arocena, Sandra Arroz and Eneko Sanz.
The winning 2009 patent is titled, "Wind Turbine Monitoring Methods to Improve Output, Recouping Energy Losses”. This monitoring strategy improves annual energy output by an average of 0.85%. The winning inventors are Juan Carlos García, José Maria López, Ignacio Romero, Mario Jiménez and Ángel Martín.
When selecting the contest finalists, Gamesa judged 149 patents on the following criteria: value generation for the company in cost of energy terms; potential for defence against competitors; consistency with the company's technology strategy; groundbreaking ideas and simplicity of ideas and/or technology.
At the forefront of the industry with cutting-edge technology
During the awards ceremony, Gamesa Chairman Jorge Calvet encouraged all employees to continue to add to the patent portfolio, a "key factor in Gamesa's technological development, which is increasingly valued by our customers".
According to Chief Technology Officer José Antonio Malumbres, “the inventing process is a nexus of five values: it allows us to move ever closer to the sustainability ideal; prove our excellence in both product and process; conduct ourselves in the market with respect and transparency through patents that protect our inventions; work as a team, and, above all, stay at the forefront of the industry with cutting-edge technology.
Our customers constantly demand better solutions for generating wind energy”, he noted. “Great potential remains for improving the reliability, efficiency and availability of wind turbines, and, consequently, the cost of energy. In addition to gaining ground on improvement in onshore wind, we are beginning to dip our toes into the sea. The challenges in offshore wind are quite significant, and meeting them will require the full use of our intelligence”, he said. Gamesa has become one of the most active industrial wind energy groups in the patent registration business in the past few years. Since it began developing its own innovations in 2003, the company has applied for a total of 393 patents and 150 patent families, of which 162 patents have been registered and 50 granted (data as of December 2009).
Five new technology centres and R&D investments totalling 150 million euros
Gamesa in the next few months will open five technology centres in the United States (Virginia), the United Kingdom, India (Chennai), Singapore and Brazil, adding to the five centres it currently operates in Spain, the US and China. The Virginia and UK facilities will engage in the development of technology and offshore product, a market segment in which the company aims to become a major player in coming years.
Gamesa's 2011-2013 Business Plan calls for R&D investments of 150 million euros.
One of the cornerstones of the plan is Gamesa’s commitment to becoming a leader in offering its customers a lower cost of energy (CoE). To this end, it plans a 20-percent reduction in the cost of energy through 2013, and a 30-percent reduction by 2015, thanks to the launch of new products (five onshore and offshore turbine systems), new technologies applied to existing systems, improved maintenance, etc.
The programme for improving the cost of energy will be underpinned by an increase in the number of engineering hours (1.5 million annual engineering hours), a doubling of personnel devoted to R&D by 2013 and the company’s more than 150 patent families.