Renewable energy is gradually taking over fossil fuels as their costs drop and technology improves. Now, General Electric announced the world’s most powerful offshore wind turbine in the world, with two wind farms having already secured their use. This could be big news for wind energy in the very near future and according to calculations, a single spin of the turbine can supply a day’s worth of energy for one or two houses.
The Haliade-X 13 MW turbine can generate up to 64 to 74 GWh of gross annual energy production, saving up to 52,000 metric tons of CO2, which is the equivalent of taking 11,000 vehicles off the road.
It has a bigger rotor, longer blades (107 meters), and a higher capacity factor, which makes it less sensitive to wind speed variations and increases its ability to generate more power at low wind speeds. GE claims the Haliade-X can capture more annual energy production than any other offshore wind turbine.
A 13MW turbine could produce 312 MW in a day, according to the prototype set up in Rotterdam. That’s 8% more power than the previous record achieved by GE’s 12 MW version. Each blade of the turbine is long enough to cover an American football field from one goalpost to just shy of the other. Upgrading to a turbine that size has a few practical implications, said John Roger, an energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. A wind farm that uses Haliade-X would need fewer turbines, which would also mean fewer turbine sites and fewer foundations. Overall, the project would fit in a smaller area, while also offering a hefty amount of energy.
In his analysis, Roger said at full power, a turbine the size of the Haliade-X could cover a whole household’s daily electricity needs in under 7 seconds. According to GE, a single spin of the turbine could power a UK household for more than two days. In the US, it would be enough energy for the average home, since US households tend to use more energy.
The Haliade-X has already been booked for two massive offshore wind projects. The Vineyard Wind 800 MW project near Massachusetts chose GE as its turbine supplier, specifically the Haliade-X. It’s the first commercial-scale offshore wind power in the US, will generate electricity for 400,000 homes and reduce emissions by 1.6 million tons per year.
“The selection of GE as our preferred turbine supplier means that a historic American company will play a vital role in the development of the first commercial-scale offshore wind power in the U.S.,” said in a statement Vineyard Wind CEO Lars T. Pedersen. “This is a huge moment not only for the future of our project but also for the future of an industry that is poised for exponential growth in the coming decades.”
Meanwhile, in the UK, construction is ready to being on what will be the world’s biggest offshore wind park, Dogger Bank. The project will feature the Haliade-X and will be built in three phases, each with an installed capacity of 1.2 GW. Once completed, Dogger Bank will power up to six million homes annually in the UK, equivalent to 5% of the country’s electricity demand.
Even as not every day is that windy, wind power is among the fastest-growing energy technologies. Its use is growing worldwide, largely thanks to dropping costs. Installed wind-generation capacity onshore and offshore rose by a factor of almost 75 in the past two decades, going from 7.5 GW in 1997 to 564 GW by 2018, according to IRENA. As large-scale batteries or energy storage facilities continue to develop, alternating renewable energy will become even more attractive.
The amount of power that can be obtained from the wind depends on the size of the turbine and the length of its blades. The output is proportional to the dimensions of the rotor and to the cube of the wind speed. That’s why GE is placing a big bet on its Haliade-X, with massive-sized turbines with a lot of potential.