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"The complete hub, including spinner and all electrical parts; a segmented generator; and a rear section incorporating the main carrier.

Increasing the diameter and length of the generator, for example, no longer directly impacts the nacelle's shape and outer dimensions, unlike the incorporated generators in the egg-shaped nacelle.

The proven generator electrical-excitation principle is retained, but many other things have changed.

"Our turbines are known for their long life, performance, reliability and robustness, but are, by comparison, rather heavy and expensive," according to Luetkemeyer.

"The main reasons are that Enercon design characteristics far exceed IEC class requirements, and that all our turbines are fitted as standard with features that competitors offers as options, such as cold-climate operations.

To conduct service activities in the hub spinner, technicians have to pass through hatches in the generator.

The new main bearing solution functions according to the same technology principle, but comprises a shorter large-diameter hollow shaft and, again, two pre-stressed bearings.

Another technology switch is from "endless" multi-strand copper wires to pre-manufactured aluminium form coils.

"When we started with direct-drive generators in 1992, the use of form coils with multiple connections was not considered reliable enough for undisturbed 20-year generator operating life," said Hildebrand.

Reducing mass, transport logistics, installation time and cost are the key design drivers, said Enercon's head of systems engineering, Arno Hildebrand.

He showed an artist's impression of the new compact nacelle layout, which bears a close visual resemblance to the first 500k W E-40 direct-drive turbine (right) introduced in 1992.

"The first step involves the fitting of an EP3 test carrier with the 115.7-metre rotor from our existing E-115 turbine.