Technology

Building the world’s biggest wind turbine

 By Rob Davies

The vital statistics of this mammoth structure are mind-boggling. At 220m (721ft) high, it is more than two-thirds the size of the Eiffel Tower and weighs 5,900 metric tons (6,504 short tons), more than 10 fully-loaded Airbus A380 ‘superjumbo’ aircraft. Its 80 m (262 ft) rotor blades sweep through an area equivalent of three soccer fields

Bigger is better in the world of wind power and the mammoth Vestas V164-8.0 MW is ready to top them all.

The vital statistics of this mammoth structure, slated to enter active service in 2017, are mind-boggling. At 220m (721ft) high, it is more than two-thirds the size of the Eiffel Tower and weighs 5,900 metric tons (6,504 short tons), more than 10 fully-loaded Airbus A380 ‘superjumbo’ aircraft. Its 80 m (262 ft) rotor blades sweep through an area equivalent of three soccer fields.

Size matters so much because, all other factors being equal, a larger wind turbine delivers a higher power output. The V164 can churn out up to eight megawatts of power, enough to power 7,500 homes, according to the company behind it, MHI Vestas Offshore Wind.

The firm claims it has already set a world record, producing 192 megawatts in 24 hours in October 2014, helped by favorable winds at the Osterild Wind Turbine Test Field, Denmark.

Such high output is paramount for wind power firms, because it means fewer turbines are needed to produce the same amount of energy. That brings down maintenance and operational costs, savings which can be passed down to the household consumers.

The study identified twin environmental benefits. Economies of scale mean that while a large turbine requires more energy to build than a small one, its power output is proportionally far greater

Improving cost efficiency is particularly important in renewable energy, which has historically been held back by higher prices. Larger turbines are also greener, according to a study by the Institute of Environmental Engineering at technological university ETH Zurich.

The study identified twin environmental benefits. Economies of scale mean that while a large turbine requires more energy to build than a small one, its power output is proportionally far greater.

There is also a positive knock-on effect for the wind industry from the technical knowledge gained by firms working together on more ambitious projects. All of this makes large turbines ideal for offshore wind farms, where local opposition to bigger structures is less of a factor.

Earlier this year, offshore wind company DONG Energy made the first commercial order for the V164, agreeing to take 32 turbines to extend its Burbo Bank farm in the Irish Sea. Burbo Bank’s existing 25 turbines produce some 90MW, but DONG Energy says the 32 new V164s can deliver up to a further 258MW, vastly increasing overall output capacity.

The new turbines alone could power some 180,000 homes, according to MHI Vestas Offshore Wind, a 50:50 joint venture between Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems A/S and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan.

The turbines will be assembled in Belfast, Northern Ireland, before being installed in 2016, with completion expected in 2017. Vestas has built a large production facility for the large rotor blades on the Isle of Wight.

Building the world’s most powerful wind turbine blade (Video)

The building of the 80m blade of the V164-8.0MW® wind turbine, as produced on the Isle of Wight, UK
about the author
Rob Davies
Business, travel and news for Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, City AM, Daily Telegraph, The Observer, Spears, Jewish Chronicle among others. https://robdavies.contently.com/