The World's Biggest Wind Turbine Blades Are So Long Their Tips Spin at 180 MPH

By Andrew Tarantola on at

For off-shore wind farms to become an economically feasible alternative energy source, each turbine needs to be big. Like, really big. That's why the latest turbine blade from Siemens is gigantic—just a hair shorter than the wingspan of an Airbus 380.

The B75 turbine blade itself is 75 metres long, while the entire rotor assembly measures 154 meters in diameter. As it spins, the blades cover an area of 18,600 square meters—that's roughly two and a half football pitches—at a brisk 80 metres per second, or 180 MPH at the tips.

Moving that fast over such a large area generates a tremendous amount of force. About 200 tons of air press on the blade every second with wind speeds of just 22 MPH. To build a blade that can withstand it, Siemens pours each blade as a single unit of glass fiber-reinforced epoxy resin and balsa wood. This process, called IntegralBlade, eliminates seams, joints, and other structural weak points, while maximising the rotor's performance. The process also reduces weight by as much as 20 percent, which lightens the system's load bearing requirements—from the nacelle down to the foundation.

The B75 blade is currently being installed on Siemens' 6-MW turbines, which are going up in Denmark's Østerild Test Station. Running at capacity, the entire farm could produce enough energy to power 1.8 million homes, by 2017. If the tests are successful, Danish energy giant, Dong, plans to install 300 of these new turbines along the English coast within the next few years. [PHysOrg - Siemens - Discover Siemens - Green Car Congress]