Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has started testing a large-scale wind power generation system that adopts a hydraulic drive train instead of a gear-driven system.

The company claims it is the first time such a trial has been carried out anywhere in the world and is anticipating a market launch for a mass-produced commercial model in 2015.

The tests are being carried out at MHI’s Yokohama Dockyard & Machinery Works in Japan and is a part of a project launched in September to develop a hydraulic drive train for offshore wind turbines.

On the back of the test results, MHI plans to accelerate its development of an offshore generation system in the 7 MW class, with installation and operation due to begin at Hunterston, in the UK, later this year.

The model being tested is based on an existing MWT100 gear-driven system that was retrofitted with the new hydraulic drive train. The retrofitting involved replacement of the step-up gear – which functioned as the power transmission system to increase the rotation speed of the rotor from 10 rotations per minute to the rotation speed of the generator, 1000 rotations per minute.

MHI developed the new hydraulic drive train based on digitally controlled technologies developed by a UK company, Artemis Intelligent Power, which was acquired by MHI in 2010.