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Gamesa Strengthens Its Environmental and Energy Efficiency Leadership Role by Certifying the World's First Ecodesign-Rated Wind Turbine

published: 2012-06-06 15:01

Gamesa has again demonstrated its commitment to and leadership in environmental protection and product improvement in the renewable energy industry by obtaining Ecodesign certification - granted by rating agency TÜV in accordance with ISO 14006/2011 standards -- for its G128-4.5 MW wind turbine, the first time any wind turbine in the world has achieved Ecodesign status.

Gamesa thus guarantees that this turbine generates the least possible environmental impact throughout its lifecycle: from the design of all of its components -- the stage at which 80% of all impacts generated by a product, process or service are determined - to the materials selection, manufacturing, packaging and distribution, installation, operation and maintenance and dismantling processes.

"By ecodesigning the Gamesa G128-4.5 MW, we can continue incorporating environmental issues into the design of the product itself and the development of cutting-edge technologies, leaving the focus on our priority goals: reducing the Cost of Energy and promoting energy efficiency. Without a doubt, these factors give us competitive advantages," said José Ignacio Larretxi, Gamesa's managing director of Business Excellence.

This effort has also enabled the company to optimise its manufacturing process, lessen the environmental impact of installation and operation work, make maintenance more competitive, extend the turbine's useful life and optimise its de-commissioning, facilitating the dismantling process.

Improvement indicators

Ecodesign is a tool which improves the product, in terms of both environmental impacts and efficiency and costs, facilitates processes and offers a greater number of viewpoints when making design decisions.

The G128-4.5 MW is the world's most powerful turbine on the land-based wind energy market, with unit capacity of 4.5 MW. 

The annual output of a single G10X-4.5 MW turbine is enough to:

  • meet the annual electricity needs of 4,727 households: equivalent to the population of El Escorial (Madrid); 
  • replace 1,400 equivalent tonnes of oil (toe/year);
  • prevent atmospheric emissions of 9,900 tonnes of CO2 per year;
  • prevent atmospheric emissions of 57 tonnes of SO2 and 103 tonnes of NOx per year;
  • the annual output of one turbine prevents emissions equivalent to the pollution generated by 3,300 automobiles in one year, or the emissions prevented by 1,650 hectares of trees annually;
  • this turbine’s prototype (Alaiz, Navarra, Spain), on 1 March 2012 set a record for output by a single turbine in Spain, when it generated 104.6 MWh.
  • During the Ecodesign certification process for the G128-4.5 MW, signs of improvement were noted throughout all stages of the turbine’s useful life:
  • Size, weight, modular design and visual impact:
    • The nacelle is similar in size to that of a turbine of less than half the G128-4.5 MW’s unit capacity (2 MW).
    • The G128-4.5 MW’s weight (265 tonnes at the top of the tower) is markedly lower than that of an average multi-megawatt machine, thanks to its Multismart ® technology (individual pitch which reduces loads by up to 30%);
    • The machine is the world’s only turbine with a segmented blade – which allows updates in logistics, transport and installation similar to those of a 2 MW-turbine -- thanks to its Innoblade ® technology;
    • Reduced visual impact: four G128-4.5 MW turbines generate as much energy as nine 2 MW turbines or 21 to 22 turbines of less than 1 MW of unit capacity.
  • Selecting materials with a low environmental impact (renewable and recyclable, with low energy content), reduction of materials (transport volumes) and selecting suppliers that prioritise environmental protection;
  • Manufacturing optimisation: reducing stages and minimising energy consumption, eliminating or cutting the use of noxious or hazardous substances;
  • Packaging and logistics: optimising transport and logistics (lower energy cost). All packaging travelling between Gamesa and its suppliers, its manufacturing facilities and the wind farms the company builds is reusable and recyclable;
  • Installation: reduction of civil engineering and use of land, number of structures, assembly and erection of blades. Cutting noise output during civil engineering work, as well as lowering dust disturbance, resource use and turbine lighting;
  • Operation: Reducing visual impacts, lessening the likelihood of failures, minimisation of noise; lower likelihood of bird and bat strikes. The G10X-4.5 MW generates 3.4 times more energy than an average 2 MW machine, along with preventing the release of CO2 atmospheric emissions and tonnes of oil equivalent;
  • Maintenance: reduces waste generation, costs of maintenance and component replacements, etc., during the turbine’s useful life; Indicators of optimising waste generation include:
    • Savings of more than 50,000 litres of lubricant oil compared with a turbine of less than 1 MW, and of 31,500 litres compared with a 2 MW turbine;
    • Hydraulic oil: reduction of 25% vs. 2 MW turbine systems;
    • Savings of 380 oil filters, 43.2% fewer filters than the average <1 MW turbine uses;
    • Savings of 360 air filters compared with a <1 MW turbine and of 60 air filters compared with a 2 MW machine;
  • Dismantling: the turbine’s modular design facilitates dismantling. Reuse of the product, etc.

Teamwork and training

The Ecodesign certification process for the G128-4.5 MW involved a total of 400 Gamesa personnel, from both the environment and technology divisions and the team responsible for designing and developing the turbine system.

The process for incorporating ecodesign principles as one of the company's tools represents an investment exceeding 3 million euros. “Our technical staff have noticed this tool’s usefulness and the improvements it adds to the product, in both environmental and efficiency and cost terms,” said Iñaki López, Gamesa’s director of Environment and Energy Efficiency.

Future areas of effort

The achievement of this milestone, and its results, will enable the company to extend ecodesign principles to new products and services. “In fact, we have become the world’s first renewable energy company to obtain this certification, not only for the G10X-4.5 MW product but also for the entire company anywhere in the world," said Head of Environment in Technology Javier Fernández de la Hoz.

In this context, future efforts in ecodesign will be geared towards bringing the supply chain into line with this methodology. "Environmental requirements will include the ecodesign of products and services and the authorisation of alternative suppliers," said López. These initiatives will also encompass the development of new turbine systems bearing the ecodesign seal, such as offshore machines (Gamesa is at work on the G11X-5.0 MW).

“Our goal is to introduce ecodesign throughout our integrated management system, so that from now on any turbine or service Gamesa launches on the market will include ecodesign principles," said Larretxi.

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