The Wind Power Of Tomorrow Will Use Bigger Blades And Smarter Turbines

Wind power in 2012 was responsible for adding more new electricity production to the US than any other single source. This in itself is promising news but begs the question what will the wind power of tomorrow look like?

Even though wind turbines produce 60 gigawatts of energy and power more than 15 million homes, they still only account for 1.8 percent of the nation’s carbon emissions. The level of uptake around the country is of course an important factor but so too if the efficiency of current wind turbine technology.

It would appear that big is better in the wind power world, with big rotors able to generate more electricity, especially from low winds. The only drawback is that rotors big enough to generate improvements are the size of an olympic swimming pool, and notoriously difficult to transport.

Blade Dynamics fabricates its 160-foot, carbon-fiber blade in multiple pieces, which can then be transported by standard trucks and assembled at a nearby location. This prefabricated turbine could be what’s needed to eventually reach 295-foot and 328-foot blades that are currently being designed for offshore platforms. A rotor of this size could generate twice the capacity of today’s biggest models.

So, apart from being bigger, the wind power of tomorrow will also be smarter. In order to become a stable source of electricity, wind power needs to be made more predictable.

General Electric’s new 2.5-megawatt, 394-foot-diameter wind turbine can share data with other turbines, wind farms, technicians, and operations managers. Algorithms analyze 150,000 data points per second to provide precise region-wide wind forecasts and enable turbines to react to changing conditions, even tilting blades to maximize power and minimize damage as a gust hits.

Do you think the wind power of tomorrow will be enough to unseat fossil fuels as our main source of electricity?

Wind power of tomorrow will be bigger

Image: Graham Murdoch