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U.S. Wind Power Output Increases as Turbine Blades Grow Longer

The US Department of Energy has compiled a report which states that energy generated from wind turbines in the US has grown by 27 percent over the last year alone. The majority of this increase can be attributed to the size of the wind turbine blades that are now being installed.

The report noted that wind turbines in the 1980’s used blades that averaged a mere 19.81 meters in length, whereas nowadays turbines are erected with an average blade length 45.72 meters. Blades are constantly growing longer, and it is predicted that in the future they could measure over 100m.

Niketa Kumar remarked in her article on the Department of Energy’s website, that “any new wind turbine technology is only as good as the tests it undergoes.” With that in mind the DoE has been investing heavily in wind turbine testing facilities.

The Wind Technology Testing Centre in Boston is the first ever large-blade test facility in the US, and can test blades longer than 90 meters. It is situated near offshore wind farms and has a 366 meter dock for transporting blades to and from the centre. It hopes to play a large role in the wind sector as turbines grow bigger and bigger.

Niketa Kumar wrote that the “test facility has helped both private industry and public researchers and academics drive new wind technology development, from more efficient blades up to 160 feet in length to stronger, more durable drivetrains.” The hope is that it will help in the creation of large-scale offshore wind farms.

By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com

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  • slider on July 25 2012 said:
    Bigger blades are definitely a step in the right direction. But commercial wind is all about cost of energy, and that means reducing the capital cost/kW of turbines. Unfortunately, most of the turbine technologies currently being pushed, such as large direct-drive PM generators, will not reduce capital costs or improve efficiency and reliability. So they are definitely a step in the wrong direction.

    While large wind turbines with direct-drive PM generators might sound high-tech and make for good press releases, the most effective approach is to continue improving the good old workhorse turbine design with a gearbox and AC generator.

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