An Enercon E-126 7.5 MW wind turbine may be installed at Le Havre, on the coast of France. The WIN I test site there is an onshore location designed to test and certify wind turbines for both on and offshore use. It is rare for there to be no wind in this area, and a high wind speed of 112 mph was recorded in 1987. This site is also appropriate for a reason unrelated to winds, but directly connected to environmental awareness. Le Havre is the least polluted of France’s urban centers. Many of the world’s largest wind turbines are designed for offshore use, but the E126 is for onshore power generation.
Enercon’s E126 wind turbine can generate 7.5 MW, which makes it the most powerful turbine in the world. There is one that is physically larger, the Siemens B75, but it doesn’t have as much power output. It isn’t only the large power generation of the E126 that is appealing. The gearless drive is a winning feature because it produces less noise than other turbines. One of the chief complaints from people who live near wind farms is the constant, grinding noise.
Most of the larger wind turbines currently in service have a maximum output of about three megawatts. With ample winds, such a turbine generates enough electricity to power about 720 to 1200 homes. This range is based on the assumption that the average home uses an estimated 10,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year.
Using the same figures, a single E126 tower should be able to power between 1680 and 2800 homes. The implications of having such a large turbine available are considerable. Some small towns located in areas with consistent, strong winds might be powered by a single E126 and an electrical storage system.
The E126 wind farm at Estinnes, Belgium has been estimated to have the capacity to power up to 50,000 homes. This turbine array was the the world’s first E-126 project of its size. A wind farm in Canada will utilize 77 Enercon turbines, but the smaller 3 MW versions.
The E126 uses a 135 meter tower (443 feet) made of reinforced concrete sections. One E126 costs about $14 million, but that doesn’t include installation.