The First V236-15.0 MW Powertrain Leaves ZF Wind Power Belgium Via Sustainable Water Transport

ZF Wind Power and Vestas answer the current and future growth in the offshore market with the V236-15.0 MW powertrain. The first prototype left Belgium via sustainable water transport. 

The demand for wind energy is increasing worldwide and turbines are getting bigger and more powerful. As a result, the powertrain, the heart of the turbine, is growing too. With the expansion of ZF Wind Power’s portfolio from serial gearbox to serial powertrain production, not only will the manufacturing processes be adapted, but the transfer will also be upgraded. The company is investing in sustainable water transport. 

The V236-15.0 MW powertrain: Challenging the limits Powered by a swept area of 43,742 m², the Vestas V236-15.0 MW turbine moves the boundaries of offshore wind energy production forward. A single turbine can produce up to 80 GWh per year depending on site-specific conditions. This is the equivalent of the yearly use of 20,000 households*. These models will accelerate the shift from climate-damaging fuels towards clean, renewable types of energy. The 115.5 m-long blades 

enable greater energy production with fewer turbines. This design not only challenges the boundaries of energy production, but also the limits of transport. “Bridges, roundabouts, roadworks, and other possible obstacles on the route make it rather difficult to transport such a heavy and large powertrain via the road. After different studies with multiple experts, including De Vlaamse Waterweg nv (Flemish Waterways plc), we decided to transfer this unique design via inland waterways and international sea transport,” explains Felix Henseler, CEO of ZF Wind Power. 

Empowering a sustainable future together via water Transport on waterways is not only independent of roadblocks. As there are hardly any ‘traffic jams’, it is more trustworthy and delivery times are predictable in detail. “Inland waterway transport is a very reliable mode of transportation: you know exactly when your shipment will arrive. Goods are not only transported efficiently, but also in an environmentally friendly manner,” says Chris Danckaerts, CEO of De Vlaamse Waterweg nv. As of 2024, ZF Wind Power will transfer powertrains per barge from the plant in Lommel to the harbor in Antwerp daily. In Antwerp, a seagoing vessel will be loaded completely with powertrains on their way to their destination. If these were to have been transported one by one on the road, time and costs would be much higher. “Transport by waterways allows us to optimize logistics processes, while contributing to a more sustainable future,” summarizes Felix Henseler. Not only is the price of transport by shipping vessels competitive, but the social costs are also low. Lower fuel and labor costs ensure that the overall picture is two to three times lower than with road or rail transport. “The combination of inland shipping and shortsea transport offers many advantages and new opportunities for ZF Wind Power. By opting for inland shipping, they can not only save costs, but also achieve a significant CO₂ reduction,” says Chris Danckaerts. Transport by these vessels results in substantially fewer CO₂ emissions than the alternatives. By transporting more goods by water, trucks are taken off the road, and less particulate matter is produced. “This transport approach fits perfectly into ZF’s ambitious climate strategy,” says Dr. Michael Karrer, Head of Sustainability and EHS at ZF. “Our strategy covers not only ZF itself and our production, but also the emissions of the entire value chain. Therefore, we will also reduce emissions from shipping processes.” 

For ZF Wind Power, water transport opens doors for the future. “With a quay only three kilometers from our plant, there are opportunities to send and receive more and larger products or components from and for our partners. Together, we can empower a sustainable future,” concludes Felix Henseler. 

*Calculation is based on nameplate capacity divided by energy consumption excluding losses using Eurostat 2021 data 

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