Mitsubishi Heavy Seeks 10% of Offshore Wind Market

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. plans to capture a 10 percent share of the global offshore wind power market by 2017 using an as yet unproven technology that will boost generation efficiency and lower costs.

The company, which has manufacturing businesses in ships, aircraft and nuclear plants, will be entering a market dominated by Siemens AG of Germany and Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems A/S. The two have about 80 percent of the world’s offshore wind market, while Mitsubishi Heavy has zero, according to the company.

Mitsubishi Heavy this month started testing a wind generation system using an hydraulic drive train, instead of mechanical gears. It aims for a 10 percent or more share of the global offshore market by 2016 or 2017, Masahide Umaya, head of offshore wind development, told reporters today in Tokyo.

Hydraulic drive trains “eliminate the need for mechanical gearboxes, which will result in smaller and lighter nacelles,” or the car-sized units that house the gears, electronics and other machinery, said Justin Wu, lead wind analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“They will also allow the turbine to capture more energy at lower wind speeds, which could dramatically improve its efficiency,” he said. “However, the technology remains unproven and without an operational track record, they will not be deployed in projects any time soon until investors can see that they actually work as claimed.”

The test operation of a 1.5 megawatt wind tower began at a dockyard in Yokohama city, Kanagawa prefecture.

Mitsubishi Heavy is developing a 7 megawatt offshore system that will be tested onshore in the U.K. this year, according to a statement. The company said it will run sea tests of the model offshore of Japan’s Fukushima prefecture in 2014 and aims to mass-produce a commercial model in 2015.

The hydraulic drive train is based on technology developed by U.K.-based Artemis Intelligent Power, a company Mitsubishi Heavy bought in 2010.

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