Turbines 200 meters high, 50 meters blade, power up to 50 megawatts and low cost. It is the future of wind power which, to compete with other sustainable sources, must move towards structures of greater height and greater power than those currently marketed, which are around 8 MW.
“Larger turbines are needed to capture energy at an affordable cost “, assures in this sense Todd Griffith, member of ARPA-E, a program from which we are working to develop the wind technology of the future, designed for marine installations. The University of Virginia and Business Sandia National Laboratories They are promoting this project for the US Department of Energy.
Compared to current wind turbines, this initiative aims to design the largest wind turbine in the world. To make this possible, the team will opt for a new blade concept called SUMR (Ultralight Segmented Rotors) which supports larger sizes. This, in turn, results in a increase in power, from the current 5 to 10 MW to 50 MW.
Inspired by a palm tree even in the alignment of the load, blades up to 50 meters adapt to the wind speed and are collected when it reaches speeds that may present a risk. This design has more advantages, including the fact that it is possible to alleviate both blade fatigue and system stress, which directly translates into savings in production costs.
Conventional blades, explains Griffith, “They are expensive in terms of production, deployment and maintenance beyond 10 to 15 MW. They must be rigid, to avoid fatigue and eliminate the risk of falling towers in strong gusts of wind. These rigid blades are heavy and their mass, directly related to the cost, creates even more problems at extreme scales due to gravity “, the expert contrasts what the market offers today, with what it can offer.
In addition, these marine turbines on which experts from the American academic and commercial world are working will have another advantage: far from being built in one piece, will be made in attachable sections. This will also affect the costs, in this case of transport and installation, of a wind turbine that is intended to be low cost and, at the same time, the largest in the world.