Bigger Turbines, Greener Energy

June 22, 2012

American Chemical Society:

In a study that could solidify the trend toward construction of gigantic windmills, scientists have concluded that the larger the wind turbine, the greener the electricity it produces. Their report appears in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Marloes Caduff and colleagues point out that wind power is an increasingly popular source of electricity. It provides almost 2 percent of global electricity worldwide, a figure expected to approach 10 percent by 2020. The size of the turbines also is increasing. One study shows that the average size of commercial turbines has grown 10-fold in the last 30 years, from diameters of 50 feet in 1980 to nearly 500 feet today. On the horizon: super-giant turbines approaching 1,000 feet in diameter. The authors wanted to determine whether building larger turbines makes wind energy more or less environmentally friendly.

Their study showed that bigger turbines do produce greener electricity — for two main reasons. First, manufacturers now have the knowledge, experience and technology to build big wind turbines with great efficiency. Second, advanced materials and designs permit the efficient construction of large turbine blades that harness more wind without proportional increases in their mass or the masses of the tower and the nacelle that houses the generator. That means more clean power without large increases in the amount of material needed for construction or fuel needed for transportation.

Bigger turbines, it turns out, not only are green, but save green, too. And will save even more in the near future.  Better turbines perform better in lower wind speeds. That means more and more land area, that might have been uneconomical a few years ago for wind turbines, is now opening up and becoming useable.


In fact, the analysis found that the amount of U.S. land area with ideal siting conditions for wind power has increased by between 130 and 270 percent since 2002-2003 due to improvements in turbine technology. Similarly, land area that can produce wind power for less than 5 cents per kilowatt-hour — a price that makes wind competitive with natural gas — has increased by almost 50 percent over the same period.

“We’re opening a lot of new ground in the U.S., so to speak, that wasn’t available a decade ago,” Wiser said.


23 Responses to “Bigger Turbines, Greener Energy”

  1. “…However, rather than indulge in flights of fantasy about just how much wind energy we could generate for public consumption (ripe to be picked upon by those who oppose us)…

    So, we are reduced to categorizing public energy infrastructure as a “flight of fancy”!? ”

    And we do this to “avoid being picked on”!?

    Even greenman3610 avoided the crux of my argument on this point.

    Do you think public energy policy will change if we cower in our boots in terror of the republican noise machine? Do you think we must assume public opinion can not be changed?

    If the Republicans thought that way, they would never have gotten to the point of advocating the elimination of the Department of Education or the EPA. They would never advocate never raising taxes on the rich. These, and many other Republican platform planks, are all *outrageous* ideas, with no ethical, policy, or financial justifications. Yet they continue to propose them.

    Meanwhile, the justification for government financed socialistic energy infrastructure is justified for all the right reasons! And yet the very topic is a “flight of fancy”.

    The Republicans, unlike us, have got balls, folks.

    I read a post somewhere where it was asserted that if we spent 2 trillion dollars on a single huge solar installation in the Mojave it could supply 100% of our energy needs as a nation well into the future. I have no idea if the $2T is accurate, but I can tell you that that is less than the amount of money we have pissed down the rat holes of Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade.

    Waiting for the free market to fix our national energy crisis is fracking stupid. We may well be able to afford to do this on our own, and get it down now. If we had any balls at all, that is.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      “The Republicans, unlike us, have got balls, folks.”
      speak for yourself, my friend.

    • Martin Lack Says:

      By repudiating their former (vaguely sensible) positions on climate, GOP candidates for POTUS have committed intellectual suicide. It must be hoped that it will be electoral suicide also. As I think I made clear, I am not anti-wind (wave, tidal, solar, or geothermal)… My point was essentially that, given the main (vaguely sensible) objection to wind is visual pollution of the landscape, talking-up “giant wind turbines” is asking for trouble – we should be focusing on reducing demand for electricity.

  2. […] Plant as Industry Seeks ClarityAsia Report: Toshiba Plans Japan's Largest PV ProjectBigger Turbines, Greener Energy // IE Evitar seleccion de texto document.onselectstart=function(){ if […]

  3. Comparison website for business electricity rates in the UK

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