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U.S. Researchers Developing 50-MW Wind Turbines

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By Editors of Power Engineering

Though the biggest currently-functioning offshore wind turbines top out below 10 MW, researchers lead by the University of Virginia are hoping to develop a 50-MW wind turbine with blades 200 meters in length.

The Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotor Project was awarded a three-year grant of more than $3.5 million by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, CNBC reported.

Researchers hope such a large-scale project would reduce energy costs by 50 percent. While traditionally-designed wind blades become expensive and so heavy they strike their towers at extreme scales, the project uses a blade design that morphs and sways with the wind like a palm tree, which reduces structural requirements. Segmenting the blade design will also ease manufacturing and transportation constraints.

Though the finished product will use a tower roughly the size of the Eiffel Tower, the project will test the blades in Colorado on a 12-story tower.

Sandia National Labs will develop the project’s structural configuration, while the University of Colorado and the Colorado School of Mines are creating a control system that pitches and morphs the turbine’s blades. 

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