Wind Turbines: is big always beautiful?

Today’s wind turbines can be mind-bogglingly big, but big is not necessarily better. Mike Woebbeking, Vice President of GL group and chair of a session at EWEA 2012 in Copenhagen on 16 April that delves into wind turbine size, tells the European Wind Energy Association blog that size isn’t everything…

How has the average turbine size changed over the last decade?

Ten years ago the average size was around 1.5 MW, today it is close to 3 MW. Thus the average size of onshore wind turbines more or less doubled. For offshore wind farm this is more difficult to say. A decade ago there were only very few wind turbines installed offshore wind farm. The average size could be assumed to be around 1.5 MW. Today the average offshore wind turbine size is below 5 MW, however 7 MW wind turbines and bigger are under development. The average size of offshore wind turbines has roughly tripled within a decade.

How big do you think wind turbines will be by 2020?

In 2020 the average onshore wind turbine will be 4 MW. The average offshore wind turbine will be in the range of 12 MW.

What are the pros and cons of bigger wind turbines?

This is difficult to answer as there are many pros and cons for all existing types of wind turbines, sizes and concepts and the answer is very much depending on the site, its conditions and the strategy of the project as well as availability of components and wind turbines, not to mention pricing, capital and operational expenditure.

And how about smaller wind turbines?

If we are talking about smaller wind turbines, the benefits are easier ways of installation, availability of these products, building permissions (depending on the market) etc. However the capacity factors are limiting.

What are you hoping to get out of EWEA 2012?

Besides all the networking opportunities we will learn about the history in wind turbine development and challenges of the past, delegates will understand the actual challenges and needs in turbine design of the present as well as take home solutions to face these and last but not least all of us will look into the future and foresee the forthcoming turbine technology.

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