Innovating Our Future: Digitally Designed, for American Needs

How Innovation Can Grow the American Wind Industry
Thursday, May 21, 2015 1:06 pm EDT

By:

Jacob Andersen, CEO, Onshore Americas, Siemens Wind Power and Renewables Division

With the wind industry being the country’s fastest growing energy industry, it’s no surprise we’ve been seeing a rising whirlwind of wind energy discussion over the past couple of years.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Iowa just ranked number one in wind generation – and Siemens is proud to deliver 70% of all new wind capacity in the last five years.

But this week, if you’re a wind-energy professional, you’re most likely in Orlando, Florida at the AWEA WINDPOWER annual conference and exhibition – the best place to learn what’s going on in the wind industry. I’m happy to be there too, talking with thousands of customers, members, wind advocates, and businesses.

With Orlando the home of our wind energy training center, hosting more than 2,400 trainees annually from the U.S. and the Americas, I’m particularly proud to have the heart of wind industry professionals here this week.  

I’m even prouder to witness the wind industry’s growth over the years, but not just in terms of wind generating electricity in states such as Iowa, but also in terms of highly-skilled manufacturing and jobs in states across the country. 

A prime example is Boulder, Colorado, where our aerodynamic R&D center is located.

So this week, as wind power is especially in the spotlight as an increasingly important part of the U.S. energy mix and our economy, I’d like to focus on innovation. 

Our own employee Alonso Zamora epitomizes innovation in the wind industry by using Siemens Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software to design, test and perfect the turbine blade for the new SWT-2.3-120, the turbine we just unveiled for the first time ever at WINDPOWER 2015, and the next step in the evolution of our best selling wind platform in the U.S.  

 

Building upon the achievements of the SWT-2.3-108, the new SWT-2.3-120 features a high-performance 120-meter rotor that enables it to achieve enhanced energy production for higher altitudes across a wider range of temperature conditions.  

This latest generation of wind turbine blades is simulated in an operating environment using NX and Teamcenter PLM software, ensuring the optimum aerodynamic design to capture as much wind as possible while reducing mechanical and weight stress on gear boxes and towers.

The 59-meter blades extend the reach of the rotor, sweeping a greater area to make the most of the available wind resource.  The new blade was designed with the goal of increasing energy production for sites with medium to low wind conditions, which currently comprise the majority of the U.S. market. 

As Alonso explains this, he makes it sound like a breeze, but the intelligent product design also incorporates several added safety and operational benefits related to the service and maintenance of the turbines, including increased accessibility of key components and access to the weather station from inside the nacelle.

I congratulate him and the Boulder, Colorado team on their ingenuity in digitally designing a sophisticated product that combines cost efficiency with greater capacity and reliability.  The turbine represents a 10% higher energy output at the same cost as before, increasing competitiveness with intelligent technology, and meeting the needs of the growing U.S. wind energy market.  With more than 5,000 Siemens wind turbines installed here in the U.S., we’re leading the effort to ensure that wind power is an increasingly important part of the nation’s energy mix.