A leading manufacturer has said that in the next decade vast wind turbines that would stand taller than the highest Canary Wharf buildings could be constructed onshore, as the industry moves towards larger-scale production and machinery sizing to make cost efficiencies.
MHI Vestas already manufactures the largest commercial offshore wind turbines, which have blades of over 164 metres across and tips that reach nearly 200 metres above the sea once installed.
Each 8 MW capacity wind turbine is currently being placed into the Burbo Bank wind farm extension in Merseyside by Dong Energy.
A spokesman for MHI Vestas said that he believed these vast new turbines, which would have 12 MW of capacity or more each, were a likely development before 2030 and could ultimately increase in size to span over 230 metres. Once installed, such a turbine would have a 15 MW capacity or more and a tip that would reach over 260 metres above the sea - higher than the tallest building currently in London's Canary Wharf, which is One Canada Square.
This move towards larger turbines offers the offshore wind sector a valuable means of reducing costs. The larger blades have the ability to catch winds at higher and more powerful speeds and mean that fewer turbines are needed to deliver comparable capacity, reducing maintenance and installation costs. The larger rotors also have a bigger capacity factor, allowing them to be operational for a greater proportion of time.
These compare to the original offshore development at Burbo Bank, which used turbines that stood up to 150 metres in height and had only 3.6MW of capacity each.
The challenge now is for the industry to continue to grow and allow these 'mega' turbines to be produced with the necessary economies of scale.