Gigantic 10 MW Turbine Bends Design to Scale

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As Europe forges ahead with larger and larger wind turbine sizes for off-shore wind, a design change may now be required. The incentive to build larger turbines is that when you increase the size of the turbines you decrease your costs per megawatt significantly.

Another is that the best wind resources, the ones with no environmental controversy are further off-shore, in deeper water. As European countries venture further offshore in search of the best wind farm locations, the size of the turbines goes up as the water gets deeper.


But a proposed new 10MW turbine built by Norwegian turbine developer Sway would be as high as a 30 story building above the sea, 533 feet tall with 476 foot blades. This is so much larger than the 5 MW turbines that were even recently on the cutting edge of turbine design, that an entirely new kind of foundation design may be needed.

Instead of fixing the turbine to the sea floor – the turbine that Sway has been developing since 2004 allows an enormous, lightweight turbine to sway around a fixed base and to even swivel on it to create energy as wind direction changes. There are many designs for floating turbines. Like them, this idea will take a smaller scale model to test its effectiveness.

But that “small” test turbine size will itself be twice the size of most US wind farms with 2.5 MW turbines. Just the test will require a 5 MW turbine! Chip in a few dollars a month to help support independent cleantech coverage that helps to accelerate the cleantech revolution!

Two companies – UK-based Clipper Marine, and Norwegian state utility Enova are in partnership with Sway to bring the 10 MW behemoth into being.

“This is pioneering stuff,” says Feargal Brennan, head of offshore, process and energy engineering at Cranfield University in the UK. “I believe 10MW turbines are right on the limit of our knowledge; they may even prove to be over the limit. We may find that they work for several years and then start to develop problems. Will 10MW turbines still be working after 10, 15, 20 years of operation?”

Form follows function. If the test works this could be an interesting future energy production. Gigantic turbines out of sight, swaying gently from side to side. Cables underwater along the sea floor, just like the telephone and internet cables that are already down there, would carry the power to shore.

Europe is ready. A consortium of nations has collaborated on creating a huge renewable super grid that connects Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the UK, including some of the best off-shore potential off the coast of Scotland.

Source: Windpower Monthly

Susan Kraemer@Twitter

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