Have Wind Turbines Stopped Getting Larger?

UPDATE:  See this post for more current information about the latest generation of super turbines.

For decades the size of wind turbines continued to increase rapidly. But that growth seemed to hit the proverbial wall at about 2.5 MW.    The question is, why?     I wonder. . . . .

Things certainly slowed down for a while.  Probably in large part due to the land based transportation issues.  But now they are splitting the blades into multiple pieces and the largest turbine is 7.5 MW and is deployed onshore.  So far only 34 have been built to date while there are thousands in the under 3 MW category.  However, this turbine may represent a return to size increases for land based turbines as they cracked the nut by splitting the blades into two pieces.  This Photo shows the inner piece.

Enercon E-126 7.5 MW turbine.  Photo credit - 350.org

Enercon E-126 7.5 MW turbine. Photo credit   –   350.org

CLICK photo to enlarge

It is no surprise that offshore turbines have continued to grow with turbines larger than 6 MW in production but the rate of size increase has fallen dramatically compared to a decade ago. This is likely because the largest market remains on shore. The off shore market has not reached a size that it can put as much pressure on technology growth.

wind-largescale_clip_image001

A lot of resources are being applied to increasing the reliability and capacity factor of onshore turbines. This reduces the cost of electricity they produce or the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE).  Where LCOE is a method of valuing energy over the lifetime of the generation source in order to compare costs of various generation sources.  More about LCOE can be found here.

E 126 - Photo Credit - Jako Jellema

E 126 – Photo Credit – Jako Jellema

It is hard to comprehend the scale of these things but for perspective, the photo above shows a wind turbine that is taller than the Gateway Arch in St. Louis Missouri.  And here are a couple of fun videos for perspective.

Videos showing E-126 from  Drone’s eye view and then in production at the factory.

From a Drone

How they are built

Here is a turbine blade being built for a smaller wind turbine.  Still quite amazing:

Photo Credit - Siemens

Photo Credit – Siemens

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One Response to Have Wind Turbines Stopped Getting Larger?

  1. Pingback: Massive Wind Expansion May Arrive Sooner Than Even the Optimists Imagine | The Handleman Post

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