20-megawatts wind turbines are feasible, according to a new report from the EU-funded UpWind project.
The UpWind project explored the design limits of upscaling wind turbines to 20 MW and found that they would have rotor diameters of around 200 metres, compared to some 120 metres on today's 5 MW turbines.
Such turbines could be a solution for expanding Europe's offshore wind energy capacity, providing several times more electricity at lower costs than today's turbines.
EWEA forecasts that wind energy will meet 26-34% of Europe's electricity demand power by 2030, with almost as much electricity coming from offshore turbines as from those onshore.
20 MW machines could be a cost-efficient way of reaching these levels of production. However, according to the UpWind report published today, the 20 MW turbine requires a new, innovative, tailored design to make it work.
"UpWind found that making a 20 MW machine is not as simple as just upscaling today's 5 MW turbines," points out Jos Beurskens of the Netherlands' Energy Research Centre (ECN), who led the project along with the UpWind Coordinator Peter Hjuler Jensen from the Danish Technical University Risoe DTU. "We identified key innovations to the design, materials and way the turbine is operated", said Beurskens.
Amongst the main innovations UpWind suggests for a 20 MW wind turbine are:
Upwind suggested numerous innovations, including lowering fatigue loads on blades by using more flexible materials, individual blade control and blades that are controlled in two sections--like the wing of an airplaine.
The future smart wind turbine also would be able to adapt its position and the pitch of its blade to local wind conditions.
The study also found that the layout of a wind farm affects overal output. Lowering the power output of the first row of turbines allows for higher overall wind farm efficiency.
In addition, putting sensors on one wind turbine allows the fatigue loading on the other turbines to be estimated if the relationship of fatigue loading between the wind turbines is known.
Although significant research is still needed, Beurskens believes we could see 20 MW turbines in operation by 2020. "Intuitively, I believe we'll see the 20 MW turbines used within 10 years," he says. "That is, providing they are the cheapest option."
Several companies are currently developing 10-MW wind turbines for deployment in the near- to mid-term.
GWEC projects recovery in global wind energy market
The global wind market is expected to grow again in 2011, with more than 40 GW of new wind power capacity to be added in 2011, according to a five-year industry forecast published Tuesday by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). By 2015, the global installed wind power capacity will more than double to 450 GW from 194.4 GW at the end of 2010.
The full report is available at the link below.