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GE’s “Brilliant” Wind Turbine Revs Up In Netherlands

The new GE wind turbine is billed as the “world’s most efficient high-output wind turbine,” so even though this item hasn’t gotten past the prototype stage we’ve been keeping up with the latest developments. If it lives up to its promise, the new 2.5-120, which GE prefers to call a “brilliant” wind turbine rather than just plain old smart, will result in a significant expansion of global wind power harvesting potential. It is specifically designed to draw cost-effective wind power out of low speed, less-than-ideal sites, and that could put more locally generated clean energy within reach of more communities.

GE brilliant wind turbine prototype in Netherlands

GE by Jeffery Turner via flickr.

The GE “Brilliant” Wind Turbine

GE has just announced that the 2.5-120 prototype is now up and running at a test facility in the Netherlands. Compared to GE’s current best effort in that class, the 2.5-120 is 25 percent more efficient and achieves a 15 percent increase in power output.

The trick is in a data collection and management platform that provides real time, second-by-second analysis of “tens of thousands” of data points, enabling the turbine to squeeze every available drop of energy out of variable winds.

Energy storage is also integrated into the new GE wind turbine system, as are forecasting algorithms and the ability to communicate and coordinate with other turbines.

The system also incorporates an element that is becoming more common in all kinds of hardware, and that is the capability to self-monitor and report service issues. That leads to maintenance and service efficiencies that can significantly reduce long term operating costs.

Overall, the 2.5-120 is designed the new turbine to integrate seamlessly into something it calls the “industrial internet,” which is basically a way of describing how new energy efficient “smart” software interacts with machinery.

A Solution To Wind Turbine Turbulence

One wind power issue that the “brilliant” approach helps to address is the loss of efficiency that results when a wind turbine creates turbulence, affecting other turbines downstream. That phenomenon is not only confined to individual wind farms, but it can also affect wind quality over greater distances.

One approach to the turbulence issue is simply to ensure that wind turbines, and wind farms, are spaced far apart enough to mitigate the effect, and that is already a central design element for wind farm developers. With the 2.5-120’s capability of inter-turbine communication, more turbines could be squeezed into smaller spaces without a significant loss of overall efficiency.

That solution could help alleviate the need to site new wind farms at increasingly greater distances away from existing transmission lines and major transmission corridors. That, in turn, could help keep the U.S. wind industry on its breakneck pace of building new wind farms.

Wind Power And Earthquakes

No major source of energy harvesting is impact-free, but considering the latest issue to emerge about the local impacts of fossil fuel harvesting, wind power is looking more and more like a walk in the park.

Last week, we noted a new study of a 5.7 Oklahoma earthquake by Columbia seismologists and the U.S. Geological Survey, which linked the strongest-ever earthquake in the state to wastewater from an oil drilling operation. As is common practice in the industry, chemical-laced brine had been injected into abandoned wells under high pressure. The researchers concluded that caused a well known but previously inactive fault nearby to “jump.”

The quake was no small potatoes. It destroyed 14 homes, resulted in two reported injuries and damaged a federal highway.

That’s far from the only example of earthquakes linked to oil and gas drilling wastewater injection. Add that to increasing local impacts on water resources in populated areas from natural gas fracking and mountaintop coal mining, and the impact of underground fires and destructive subsidence from underground coal mining, and you’ve got an emerging picture of the United States under siege from fossil fuel harvesting operations.

Not for nothing, but forget about global warming: we got a problem.

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Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


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