The biggest factors in boosting wind turbine productivity — longer blades and taller towers — are fueling much of the next-generation research and development push to build a more powerful, efficient, durable and cost-effective turbine. Other important innovations are emerging to make turbine manufacturing easier and cheaper; create intelligent turbines that collect and interpret real-time data; and model and adjust wind plant flows and turbine configurations to maximize wind harvest.
erhaps the most ambitious R&D is seeking to create a rotor blade longer than 650 feet for a 50-MW offshore wind turbine. That’s 2.5X longer and over 6X more output than the largest blades and turbines now in operation.
The project, led by Sandia National Laboratories, uses Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotor (SUMR) technology in an aerodynamically-sophisticated load alignment that could substantially reduce peak stress and fatigue on rotor blades and make such a gigantic turbine structurally and economically feasible.
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