Pamplona, Spain is a good place to grow up and get hooked on engineering and renewable energy. The region has lots of renewable-energy companies, turbine manufacturers, and their suppliers, says Gamesa’s Fermin Catalán. He’s Chief Engineer for the company’s new G11X offshore turbine, a 5-MW platform.
To enjoy engineering, it also helps to come from a like-minded family of tinkerers. “My first experience with renewable energy came from my brothers who built a parabolic solar collector for fun,” he says. It was a breakthrough experience for him because it exposed him to the idea of harnessing the power of natural forces.
In addition to his brothers, Catalán says engineering inspiration comes from his father. “He could fix anything and he proposed innovative solutions to most problems,” says Catalán. For example, he says, when the clock in the village church tower stopped working, the town could not find repairman. Catalán’s father volunteered to give the repair a try and succeeded in getting the mechanism working.
“Most of my career at Gamesa has been devoted to leading our 2-MW platform projects designing, developing, validating, and certifying most of the variants,” he says. “We are always looking at ways to advance the platform that will better serve the needs of customers. For example, we’ve added new rotor sizes, airfoils, and wind classes for specific grid codes. Driving platform evolution is important for Gamesa because this family of turbines is fundamental to our product portfolio.”
The G11X 5.0MW is a new platform for the company and the first offshore wind turbine to be designed in the U.S, so Catalán says it’s an exciting challenge. He explains that extensive testing is a key driver for design enhancement. The major components and subsystems of the G11X-5.0 MW have gone through more than 240,000 hours of testing and validation including applying a counter-yaw system to evaluate how effectively it behaves under extreme conditions.
Most members of Catalan’s North American offshore engineering team are housed in Gamesa’s North American Offshore Wind Technology Center in Chesapeake, Va, which opened in early 2011. “Plans for the offshore industry in the U.S. are moving ahead, so we want to be ready to supply the first wind farms to be installed here,” he adds.
Filed Under: Featured, Offshore wind, Turbines