For a 1 MW turbine, a typical slab foundation would be 15 meters in diameter and 1.5 to 3.5 meters deep.
What is the length of a wind turbine’s base?
Wind energy is booming in the United States; the country’s renewable energy capacity has more than tripled in the last nine years, thanks mostly to wind and solar power. Businesses now want to harvest even more wind energy at a reduced cost, and one of the most cost-effective methods to do so is to build larger turbines. That’s why, with a height of 500 meters (almost a third of a mile), an association of six institutions led by experts at the University of Virginia is designing the world’s largest wind turbine, which will be 57 meters taller than the Empire State Building.
Turbines are much bigger now than they were 15 or 20 years ago. Wind farm towers vary in size, but most are roughly 70 meters tall and have blades that are about 50 meters long. Their power production varies depending on their size and height, but it typically ranges from one to five megawatts on the higher end, enough to power around 1,100 houses. “According to John Hall, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University at Buffalo, S.U.N.Y., “there is this drive to go to larger wind turbines, and the rationale is pretty much economics.” Wind blows stronger and more persistently at higher elevations, which makes huge turbines more cost-effective. As a result “According to Eric Loth, project head of the enormous turbine project, which is financed by the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects AgencyEnergy, a taller structure captures more energy (ARPAE).
Another reason why bigger is better, according to wind experts, is that longer turbine blades capture the wind more efficiently, and taller towers allow for longer blades. The power of a turbine is proportional to its size “Christopher Niezrecki, a professor of mechanical engineering and head of the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Center for Wind Energy, discusses the swept area, which is the circular area covered by the blades’ revolution. And, as Niezrecki shows, this relationship is not linear: if blade length doubles, a system can produce four times as much energy. He points out that larger turbines have a lesser efficiency “The wind speed at which they can begin generating energy is known as the cut-in speed.
Loth’s team hopes to create a 50-megawatt system with blades that are 200 meters long, which is substantially larger than current wind turbines. The researchers predict that if they succeed, the turbine will be ten times more powerful than current equipment. However, the researchers are not simply enlarging existing designs; they are radically altering the turbine construction. The ultralarge machine will have two blades rather than the typical three, reducing the structure’s weight and slashing costs. Although lowering the number of blades would normally make a turbine less efficient, Loth claims that his team’s sophisticated aerodynamic design compensates for those losses.
According to Loth, the team also envisions these massive structures standing at least 80 kilometers offshore, where winds are greater and people on land cannot see or hear them. However, violent storms have impacted regions like the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the United States, for example. Loth’s crew was faced with the challenge of designing something gigantic while being reasonably lightweight and hurricane resistant. The researchers used one of nature’s own design ideas to solve the problem: palm plants. “Palm trees are towering but structurally weak, and if the wind blows hard enough, the trunk can bend, according to Loth. “We’re attempting to apply the same notion to the design of our wind turbines so that they can bend and adapt to the flow.
The two blades are situated downwind of the turbine’s tower in the team’s design, rather than upwind as they are on standard turbines. Like a palm tree, the blades change shape in response to the direction of the wind. “Loth adds that when the blades bend back at a downwind angle, they don’t have to be as heavy or powerful, allowing for the usage of less material. This design also reduces the risk of a spinning blade being bent toward its tower by heavy winds, potentially bringing the entire structure down. ” According to Loth, the blades will adapt to high speeds and begin to fold inward, reducing the dynamic stresses on them. “In non-operating situations, we’d like our turbines to be able to withstand winds of more than 253 kilometers per hour. The system would shut down at 80 to 95 kilometers per hour, and the blades would bend away from the wind to survive powerful gusts, according to Loth.
Challenges remain for the 500-meter turbine.
There are several reasons why no one has attempted to build one of this size: “How do you construct blades that are 200 meters long? What’s the best way to put them together? How do you build such a tall structure? Cranes can only reach a certain height. And there are additional issues with offshore wind, according to Niezrecki. The team’s idea features a segmented blade that could be constructed on-site from sections, but Niezrecki points out that the wind industry has yet to find out how to segment blades. ” He claims that there are numerous scientific questions that need to be answered. “It carries a significant risk, but it also has the potential for a great payout. Those issues, in my opinion, are not insurmountable. Hall also wonders if such a big turbine is the best size.” We’ve discovered that bigger is better. The question is, how much larger will it be? He continues, “We need to find that sweet spot.” “This project will teach us a great deal.
Loth and his team have yet to test a prototype; they are now designing the turbine’s structure and control system, and this summer they will build a model that is about two meters in diameter, much smaller than the actual thing. They intend to build a larger version with two 20-meter-long blades that will generate less than a kilowatt of power and will be tested in Colorado next summer. Loth himself is unsure whether his team’s massive turbine will become a reality, but he believes it is worth a shot. “He claims that because this is a brand-new concept, there are no guarantees that it will succeed. “However, if it succeeds, offshore wind energy will be transformed.
What is the height of a wind turbine’s base?
The hub height of a wind turbine is the distance from the ground to the center of the rotor. Since 1998-1999, the hub height of utility-scale land-based wind turbines has climbed by 59%, to around 90 meters (295 ft) in 2020. That’s around the same height as the Statue of Liberty! In the United States, the average hub height for offshore turbines is expected to increase from 100 meters (330 feet) in 2016 to around 150 meters (500 feet) in 2035, which is nearly the same height as the Washington Monument.
What is a wind turbine’s foundation?
Towers of wind turbines Gravity and monopile foundations are widely employed in shallow waters. Rather as gravity type foundation, monopile type foundation is most usually employed. In sea depths more than 10 meters, constructing a gravity type foundation is prohibitively expensive.
How much concrete does a wind turbine require?
Democrats envision a civilization powered entirely by wind and solar farms, as well as large batteries. Realizing this dream would necessitate the world’s largest mining expansion, as well as massive amounts of waste.
“The term “renewable energy” is misleading. Nonrenewable resources are used to construct wind and solar machines and batteries. They also wear out. Decommissioning old equipment generates millions of tons of garbage. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, solar goals set for 2050 in accordance with the Paris Accords will result in old-panel disposal accounting for more than double the current worldwide plastic waste volume. Consider the following depressing figures:
A single battery for an electric vehicle weights around 1,000 pounds. To make one, more than 500,000 pounds of raw materials must be dug up, moved, and processed somewhere on the earth. What’s the alternative? To deliver the same amount of vehicle miles over the battery’s seven-year life, use gasoline and extract one-tenth as much overall weight.
When electricity is generated by wind or solar machines, each unit of energy produced, or mile traveled, necessitates significantly more materials and area than when it is generated by fossil fuels. That physical reality is plain to see: A wind or solar farm that stretches to the horizon can be substituted by a few gas-fired turbines the size of a tractor-trailer.
A wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete, and 45 tons of non-recyclable plastic to construct. Solar energy necessitates an even greater amount of cement, steel, and glass, not to mention other metals. According to the International Energy Agency, global silver and indium mining will increase by 250 percent and 1,200 percent over the next two decades, respectively, to produce the materials needed to build the required number of solar panels. To fulfill the Paris green objectives, global demand for rare-earth minerals, which aren’t unusual but are rarely mined in America, would climb 300 percent to 1,000 percent by 2050. Demand for cobalt and lithium will more than 20-fold if electric vehicles replace conventional cars. This does not include backup batteries for wind and solar grids.
A study commissioned by the Dutch government last year indicated that the Netherlands’ green goals would absorb a significant portion of world minerals on their own. “It was found that with current technology and annual metal production, exponential development in renewable energy generation capacity is not achievable.
Mines in Europe and the United States are unlikely to meet the demand for minerals. Instead, much of the mining will be done in countries with harsh labor laws. 70% of the world’s raw cobalt is produced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while China controls 90% of cobalt refining. The Institute for a Sustainable Future, located in Sydney, warns that a global “gold rush for minerals” could lead to miners entering “certain distant wilderness areas that have retained high biodiversity because they haven’t been disturbed.”
To manufacture enough wind turbines to supply half of the world’s electricity, almost two billion tons of coal and two billion barrels of oil would be needed to make the concrete and steel, as well as two billion barrels of oil to make the composite blades.
What is the base width of a wind turbine?
Many people visualize little machines behind someone’s house when they think about wind turbines. According to National Wind Watch, industrial wind turbines are gigantic pieces of technology with blades that can easily stretch hundreds of feet.
Wind turbines generate energy at a lower cost due to economies of scale, therefore larger turbines can generate more electricity.
Components for wind turbines are frequently carried by road. Turbines are secured in steel and rebar platforms that easily exceed 1,000 tons in weight and rest 6 to 30 feet in the ground once they are built. Turbines must then be outfitted with lights so that they can be seen. On average, per megawatt, they take up around 50 acres of land.
Wind turbines generate energy at a lower cost due to economies of scale, therefore larger turbines can generate more electricity. Furthermore, larger turbines are more efficient and therefore better suited for use offshore. Smaller turbines, on the other hand, are quicker to construct and produce less energy fluctuation.
Wind turbines, regardless of their size, are a striking addition to the environment. The rotor diameter of a wind turbine with a 600-kW generator is typically around 144 feet. You may acquire four times the power by doubling the diameter. Machines are frequently modified to cater for local wind conditions. Many extant models reach heights of over 400 feet, with extra-long towers and larger and longer blades.
Vestas, Gamesa, and General Electric are the most prevalent turbine manufacturers in the United States, however some older facilities still use NEG Micon and Zond turbines. The GE 1.5-megawatt model, for example, has 116-foot blades on a 212-foot tower, but the Vestas V90 has 148-foot blades on a 262-foot tower. The GE 1.5-megawatt variant is almost 164 tons in weight, with the tower alone weighing roughly 71 tons. The Vestas V90 has a total weight of around 267 tons.
Continue reading for a list of the most common wind turbines now in production or set to start soon, as well as their sizes.
What is the minimum space requirement for a wind turbine?
The placement and size of wind turbines are critical for a successful wind project. Wind turbines perform best when they are exposed to the strongest winds. When compared to less windy sites, windier sites produce significantly more energy (and thus income). This is why wind developers prefer to build wind turbines on the summits of hills in upland areas or utilize the tallest towers possible. As a result, if you want a community wind project’s financial viability to be maximized, the turbine(s) should be placed in the most exposed site possible.
There may be good aesthetic reasons for placing a wind turbine in a less-exposed location if it means the wind turbine(s) will be less visible from critical viewpoints, which may aid in securing planning consent.
A wind turbine’s’size’ is determined by two factors: the hub height and rotor diameter. High hub heights are desired from a technical standpoint because they expose the turbine to greater average wind speeds, while larger rotors capture more wind. Shorter towers/smaller rotors are advantageous for a variety of reasons. One is for technical reasons, such as avoiding microwave transmission connections or aviation radar interference, while the other is for aesthetic reasons, such as reducing visual effect. You can’t do much about the technical reasons, and from an aesthetic one, we’d argue that because a huge wind turbine is by definition large, it’s better to avoid compromising its performance with a shorter tower/smaller rotor, because it’ll still be noticeable regardless.
The number of wind turbines is determined by the size of the site. The wind turbines themselves must be spaced at least ‘5 rotor diameters’ apart to avoid turbulence affecting one another. A 500 kW wind turbine is 250 meters apart, while a 2.5 MW wind turbine is 410 meters apart. As you can see, numerous wind turbines require a lot of accessible land, but if you have the space, the area between the turbines can still be used for farming or other purposes with virtually little impact from the wind turbine.
Also keep in mind the ‘constraints’ that apply to all sites and limit where wind turbines can be placed. The following are examples of typical constraints:
- Buffers from inhabited buildings for noise and visual amenity
- Watercourses, ponds, bridleways, railways, woods and hedges…
When these fundamental limits are implemented, it’s astonishing how much of a huge landholding gets deleted (see the example below). These graphics are from our ‘Constraints Map Stage 1 (CM1)’ service, which includes preliminary checks to determine a site’s developable area. Only the yellow coloured regions are available for development in this example!
How big are the feet of a wind turbine?
In any case, the goal is to keep making turbines bigger and bigger. When it comes to land-based (onshore) turbines, there are a number of non-technical issues to consider, such as transportation and infrastructure bottlenecks, land use difficulties, concerns about vistas, huge birds, shadows, and so on.
However, wind power is increasingly moving out to sea, particularly in Europe. And out in the middle of the ocean, where land is barely visible, the only restriction to size is engineering. As a result, offshore turbines are now growing at a higher rate than onshore turbines over the last decade.
In March of this year, a clear example of this pattern emerged (when I first published this story). GE Renewable Energy said that it will invest $400 million in the development of a new monster turbine called the Haliade-X, which will be the world’s biggest, tallest, and most powerful turbine (at least until the next big announcement).
It’s a remarkable engineering achievement, but the significance of increasing turbine size goes far beyond that. Turbines that are larger gather more energy and do so more consistently; the larger they are, the less variable and predictable they become, and the easier they are to integrate into the grid. On wholesale energy markets, wind is already outcompeting traditional sources. It won’t even be a competition after a few more generations of expansion.
What wind turbines are getting up to
Let’s start with some comparisons to get a sense of the size of this new GE turbine.
To gather the most up-to-date information on wind turbine sizes, I called Ben Hoen, a research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. (He emphasizes that they are estimates.) In a few months, LBNL will provide a report on this, but he doesn’t expect the figures to alter much, if at all.)
In 2017, the average overall height (from base to tip) of an onshore US turbine was 142 meters, according to Hoen (466 feet). The median turbine height was at 152 meters (499 feet). In fact, according to Hoen, the median is getting close to the maximum. In other words, onshore wind turbines in the United States appear to be gradually approaching that height. Why? Because if you build higher than 499 feet, the FAA demands certain more steps in their clearance process, which most developers don’t seem to think is worth the trouble.
The Hancock Wind project in Hancock County, Maine, houses the world’s tallest onshore wind turbines. If you must know, thoseVestas V117-3.3s are roughly 574 feet tall.
So that’s all for the onshore. What about a trip to the islands? So far, the US has only one operational offshore wind farm, the Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island. Its turbines reach a height of about 590 feet.
How does the Haliade-X stack up against all of that? It will be 853 feet tall, according to GE.
That would be the world’s tallest wind turbine, as far as I’m aware. The previous record holder, as far as I can gather from searching (as I said, these things change frequently), is an 809-foot onshore turbine in Germany.
Bigger turbines mean more power, more often
However, height isn’t the only factor to consider. There are a few other accolades for the Haliade-X.
The whole sweep of the turbine’s blades is measured by the rotor diameter (the diameter of the circle they define). When all other factors are equal, a larger rotor diameter means the turbine can capture more wind.
According to Hoen, the average rotor diameter of US wind turbines was 367 feet in 2017. The rotor diameter of the Haliade-X will be 722 feet, which is almost double the average. The blades will be massive, measuring 351 feet in length each, longer than a football field and longer than any other offshore blade to date, according to GE.
The Haliade-X will have a very high capacity factor because to its huge rotor diameter, steady offshore wind, and 12MW turbine (onshore averages approximately 3MW; offshore around 6MW).
The following excerpt from the 2016 Wind Technologies Market Report by the Department of Energy illustrates how wind capacity factors have changed over time: “The average 2016 capacity factor for projects completed in 2014 and 2015 was 42.5 percent, compared to 32.1 percent for projects completed between 2004 and 2011, and just 25.4 percent for projects completed between 1998 and 2001.
In 2016, the nuclear fleet in the United States had an average capacity factor of roughly 92 percent. (Nuclear is only economically viable in today’s markets when it is used as a baseload generator.) Coal and natural gas accounted for 55 and 56 percent of the total. (Natural gas is so cheap because it is routinely ramped up and down to match demand swings.) Coal used to be close to 80 percent, but it is becoming increasingly uneconomic to operate coal plants.)
So, in the United States today, wind energy accounts for 42.5 percent of total energy consumption, whereas natural gas accounts for 56 percent. According to GE, the Haliade-X would have a capacity factor of 63 percent. That’s insane, even if it isn’t the highest in the world. The Hywind Scotland project’s floating offshore turbines recently reached a 65 percent completion rate.
When you add it all together, each Haliade-X turbine will produce roughly 67GWh annually at a “typical German North Sea site,” according to GE, “enough clean power for up to 16,000 people per turbine, and up to 1 million European households in a 750 MW windfarm configuration.” (It goes without saying that the number would be lower for energy-sipping American households.) That’s it “According to the business, the turbine produces 45 percent more electricity than any other offshore wind turbine now available.
In Rotterdam, the Netherlands, the first Haliade-X is now being built. In April, GE said that it would start producing electricity later this year.
Bigger turbines that run more often are going to crush all competitors
This 2015 piece by energy researcher Ramez Naam on the ultimate potential of wind power is one of my favorites. “Even at today’s price per kwh, wind at 60% capacity factor would be considerably more useful than it is currently, with fewer constraints to how much of it we might utilize,” he wrote.
- The more volatile a source is, the more backup is required to solidify and ensure its reliability. (At the moment, backup is mostly provided by natural gas plants, however batteries are becoming more common.) Higher capacity factors lower backup costs by making wind less variable and more reliable.
- Renewable energy that is variable (sun and wind) has a tendency to “eat its own lunch.” The next increment of capacity added lowers the clearing price for all the other increments since it all produces energy at the same time (when the sun shines or the wind blows). The lower the price, the more energy comes online at once. A turbine with a 60 percent capacity factor blunts and reduces this price-suppressing effect by dispersing its energy over a longer period (about twice the 32 percent of 2011-vintage turbines).
Although a capacity factor of 60% or more isn’t precisely “baseload,” it does appear to be less variable. Even if the price of wind energy remained constant, turbines like the Haliade-X would be more valuable.
It won’t stay the same, though; it’s down 65 percent since 2009. According to a recent NREL analysis, advancements in wind power technology (including larger turbines) could reduce it by another 50% by 2030. (University of Virginia researchers are working on a design for an offshore turbine that will be 1,640 feet taller than the Empire State Building.)
Assume that by 2025, new wind turbines in the United States have an average hub height of 460 feet, which is substantially in line with current forecasts. According to NREL research, such turbines may have capacity factors of 60 percent or higher across more than 750,000 square miles of US land and 50 percent or higher across 1.16 million square miles.
With expected developments in wind technology, that much wind, at that capacity factor, will create power cheap enough to demolish all competitors. And the year 2025 isn’t all that far away.