If you’re like me — all jaw-dropped at the sheer size of wind turbines — prepare to be even more awestruck.
The Energy Technologies Institute in the United Kingdom has granted UK-based wind turbine blade manufacturer Blade Dynamics a contract to develop the world’s largest turbine blades. As long as two Olympic-sized swimming pools, the new blades will measure between 262 and 328 feet. Offshore wind farms currently boast the longest blades at 246 feet.
Blade Dynamics will manufacture the new blades out of carbon fiber, rather than the fiberglass that current blades are made of, making them up to 40 percent lighter. They’ll also be assembled in multiple sections, rather than a single-piece mold. For manufacturers, this is a cheaper and more accurate option.
The extra-long blades will also help generate more electricity. Current 246-foot blades max out at six megawatts, while the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) believes the new blades could give turbines a peak of eight to ten megawatts.
ETI intends to use these blades on the next generation of large offshore wind turbines currently being developed. Once the project’s prototype phase concludes, the blades could be put into production by late 2014.
“Offshore wind has the potential to be a much larger contributor to the UK energy system if today’s costs can be significantly reduced,” Paul Trinick, Offshore Wind Project Manager at the ETI said in a press release. “Investing in this project to develop larger, more efficient blades is a key step for the whole industry in paving the way for more efficient turbines, which will in turn help bring the costs of generating electricity down.
Credit: Blade Dynamics