- As a leading innovator, ZF Wind Power invests in a Test & Prototype Center. The center boasts the world’s most powerful validation test bench to develop the next generations of wind turbine powertrains. This state-of-the-art 30 MW test rig can validate complete powertrain systems for both onshore and offshore wind turbine applications.
- ZF launches Thrive, an advanced service approach, linking products, processes, and digital concepts for continuous availability and maximum output.
- With the investment in the Test & Prototype Center and the launch of Thrive, ZF Wind Power empowers customers with its commitment to be a strategic partner on the road to a sustainable future.
Lommel, Belgium/Hamburg, Germany. The wind market is continuously evolving and ZF Wind Power meets this rapidly growing demand by strengthening its position as a strategic partner. With targeted investments in both product validation and service, the company reinforces the commitment to their partners while empowering a sustainable future together with them.
With an increasing number of countries adding a considerable share of wind energy to their energy mix, the wind market is turning into a mature market. In their effort to reduce the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCoE), the major players in the wind industry find themselves in a race, which will be won by the turbine with the maximum annual power output at the given site conditions at the most competitive investment costs. In the wind gearbox supply chain, this results in a rapid increase in torque requirements with new onshore developments exceeding 8 000 kNm and offshore even double the onshore requirements.
Pioneering with the world’s largest validation test rig:
Extensive validation is the foundation of ZF Wind Power’s innovations
As a leading innovator, ZF Wind Power is continuously increasing the torque levels of their gearboxes and powertrains. The team strives for high quality and invests largely in validation. “Extensive validation is the foundation of ZF’s innovations. Testing allows us to contain the risks inherent to the wind industry and it is essential to receive approval from customers, insurers, and certification agencies in order to launch new designs,“ says Dr Martin Knops, CTO of ZF Wind Power. “To extend our portfolio, we started installing the world’s largest test rig,” continues Dr Knops.
With a length of sixty meters, the rig will test the dynamic behavior of the main bearings, the gearbox, and the generator on the system level under real conditions with functional load tests, dynamics, and robustness tests. It covers a maximum torque of 45 MNm, a maximum bending moment of 64 MNm, and a maximum axial force of 7 500 kN.
ZF Wind Power’s Test & Prototype Center: from modular gearbox platform concepts to next generation powertrains
The 30 MW test rig will be installed at the Belgian headquarters of ZF Wind Power, home to ZF’s core knowhow in wind gearbox innovation and validation expertise. The installation will be in operation as of 2024 and it will secure ZF Wind Power’s position in the wind market for the upcoming decades. “The development of ZF Wind Power’s Test & Prototype Center allows us to expand our offering from modular wind gearbox platforms to complete powertrain systems. Together with our partners, we take on challenges, build modelling tools, and introduce new production processes.
This demonstrates our commitment to partnering with our customers for innovative projects to empower a sustainable future together,“ states Felix Henseler, CEO of ZF Wind Power.
Investing in the future of wind, our climate, and the economy
Climate change and environmental degradation threaten the future. The European Green Deal provides solutions to these challenges. It will transform the EU into a modern and competitive, resource-efficient economy. “ZF is proud to contribute to sustainability and future energy independence through innovative wind energy solutions. The groundbreaking investment in Lommel will secure ZF’s future portfolio and strengthen the European industrial base in a strategic sector,” states Wolf-Henning Scheider, CEO of ZF. The Test & Prototype Center unlocks the wind potential for the next-generation turbines. This will be crucial for the success of the global energy transition. These models will accelerate the shift from climate-damaging fuels towards clean, renewable types of energy. “We are grateful to develop this center with the support of the Flemish government,“ continues Wolf-Henning Scheider, CEO of ZF. The Green Deal aims to reach a climate-neutral Europe by 2050, by boosting the economy through green technology, sustainable industries, and transport. “The importance of this Test & Prototype Center cannot be underestimated, especially during the current energy crisis. Flanders is doing everything it can to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy and plans to support this investment with ‘Strategic Transformation Support’,” says Jan Jambon, Flemish Minister President. “The fact that ZF has selected Flanders for this center proves, in my opinion, that we have everything it takes to attract international investments in essential sectors. Thanks to everyone who makes this project possible,” concludes Jo Brouns, Flemish Minister of Economy, Innovation, Work, Social Economy, and Agriculture.
Empowering a sustainable future together
The road to a sustainable future is a paved with things like tackling design challenges, building modelling tools, sharing results, testing, and validation energies – all being done together with a proactive partner. It requires true commitment integrated into a continuous action plan with a shared goal. Thanks to close collaborations, joint teams can develop pioneering solutions for the future wind market. “The development of the Test and Prototype Center strengthens our position and shows ZF Wind Power’s authority in the wind market to empower a sustainable future together with our partners,“ summarizes Hans Akkermans, CCO of ZF Wind Power.
Thrive: for continuous availability
For ZF Wind Power, a partnership does not stop when the product has been developed. “We are a forward-looking organization, constantly searching for new ways to do more by utilizing innovative technologies for the benefits of our partners,” says Sivakumar Jayapal, CSO of ZF Wind Power. For ZF Wind Power, each partner has its own requirements and ambitions. The diversity of wind turbines is a fact. All those systems, configurations, and operational locations with their specific geographical and meteorological conditions influence the appropriate type of service concept. “With the development of Thrive, we’ve created a service concept to help our partners get the most from wind power out of their project. Our long-term investment in reliable, modular gearbox platforms and associated digital solutions is one of the foundations to avoid and simplify service interventions, both onsite and offsite. It gives our partners more opportunities to optimize operations,“ continues Sivakumar Jayapal, CSO of ZF Wind Power.
Together with the launch of the Thrive service concept, ZF also launched www.zfthrive.com. This digital platform summarizes, but does not limit, the capabilities of Thrive. This platform lets visitors contact their local service partners and select a replacement gearbox out of an international gearbox pool, which will then be delivered within five days. Thanks to the Spare Parts Optimization Service, a unique digital concept, partners are informed in advance when parts need to be replaced. This way, Thrive guarantees its partners continuous availability of gearboxes, spare parts, services, and energy output.