NASA-built turbine blade to slice cost of wind energy
The world's first modular offshore wind turbine blade is being shipped to the UK from a NASA facility in New Orleans.
Experts say that when commercialised, the pioneering 78-metre blade will increase reliability and cut the costs of producing energy for offshore wind farms.
Because the blade is modular i.e assembled from smaller components, it can also be cheaply put together in simple warehouses, cutting supply chain costs.
The D78 blade was designed by UK firm Blade Dynamics in partnership with a variety of organisations including DECC, the Carbon Trust, the Dow Chemical Company, NASA and the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI).
ETI chief executive Dr David Clarke said the new technology represented the next step in windfarm development.
He said:"ETI supported this technology development because blades have been a limiting factor for the cost and performance of offshore wind, and this was an opportunity to demonstrate what is possible.
“The 78m blade uses technology capable of making rotors whose diameters can reach beyond 200m, enabling larger, more effective turbines and leading to a reduced cost of energy.
“Once commercialised, this technology can create a pathway to improving performance, reliability and cost for offshore wind as well as providing an exciting route for the future export of blade components from the UK."
Pepe Carnevale, the CEO of UK firm Blade Dynamics which designed the D78, said the simple assembly would also make the blade easy to ship overseas.
He said: “This creates an export market for blades and allows established UK companies to participate in the wind turbine blade supply chain, which is otherwise very difficult to see happening. This blade, and this technology, is a real game changer."
There are 1,452 operational offshore turbines in the UK, with a capacity of 5.054 GW, producing enough electricity to meet the needs of 3.5 million British households and saving 6.3 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year.