Efforts to increase wind power mean that turbine blades are getting bigger and bigger. But a new design in the works takes the idea to levels most people can barely imagine: Blades up to 656.2 feet long — more than two football fields.
Today's longest blades are 262.5 feet. The blades at Imperial County's Ocotillo wind farm, which sends electricity to San Diego, are 173.9 feet long.
"We call it the extreme scale," Eric Loth, a University of Virginia professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, said of the planned mega-blades. "There's nothing like it."
Loth is one of the leaders of a team, which includes four universities and two national laboratories, that has three years to build and test a scaled prototype in the hopes of making the blade a reality.
The early design would place two — rather than three — blades onto a tower. But to construct something of that size, the tower is estimated to rise 1,574 feet, nearly one-third of a mile.
To put that in perspective, that's more than 100 feet higher than the Empire State Building.
The diameter of such a facility would be at least 1,312.3 feet, nearly a quarter of a mile.
"It's mind-blowing, what we're proposing in many respects, but I do think it's possible," Loth said.
The super-sized blades would generate up to 50 megawatts of electricity, 25 times more than today's typical turbine....MOREBack in 2008 we looked at what was to be the then longest turbine blade in :
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