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Wind turbines get bigger and bigger

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Ady103/04/2018 09:21:05
5169 forum posts
738 photos

Reaping the wind with the biggest turbines ever made

LM Wind Power is owned by global engineering firm General Electric (GE), which announced in March that it hopes to develop a giant 12MW (megawatt) wind turbine by the year 2020.

A single turbine this size, standing 260m tall, could produce enough electricity to power 16,000 households.

The world's current largest wind turbine is a third less powerful than that, generating 8MW. Various companies, including Siemens, are working on turbines around the 10MW mark.

When it comes to wind turbines, it seems, size matters.

This is because bigger turbines capture more wind energy and do so at greater altitudes, where wind production is more consistent.

But designing and manufacturing blades of this size is a significant feat of engineering.


KWIL03/04/2018 09:28:01
3562 forum posts
70 photos

Hardly a thing of beauty.

oilcan03/04/2018 09:41:58
29 forum posts

I wonder what type of gear box it will use? Didn't some Scottish engineers design an hydraulic system that can effectively increase the output by 50% over a standard one some time ago?

Still prefer nuclear power to wind tho. More compact and reliable.

Clive India03/04/2018 10:06:51
213 forum posts

I am familiar with closing diesel generators onto the mains (in parallel) - synchronise, close, increase throttle until generator produces required output. If the throttle is reduced, the mains starts to motor the generator.

Does anyone know if wind turbines do this automatically or, when the wind drops, do they just get driven by the grid?

In other words, how intelligent are they?

Edited By Clive India on 03/04/2018 10:25:42

not done it yet03/04/2018 10:20:11
6887 forum posts
20 photos


I think you will find that Vestas have already tested a 9.5MW turbine and are supplying them to a wind farm to be under construction shorttly, if not already commenced. So not a third, only 21%

I know that David Brown were actually building a 7MW gearbox several years ago. But things move on quickly.

This turbine has no gearbox, either. It is direct drive and has yet to be developed. It is a new direction for GE.

We also need to note that the oft-quoted number of households which could be supplied is yet another advertising ploy. Households don’t usually use as much leccy during the night (apart from EV owners) and industry uses about twice as much leccy as all the households in the UK, I believe. As a comparison, OK, but not the complete story (but OK for joe public consumption).

The only downside of wind energy is its intermittency. I would expect more total output from wind (on an equivalent cost of hinkley c) by the time that comes on stream (if ever!). Our children and grandchildren will be paying dearly for that particular energy supply. Wind energy is free, with minimal decommissioning cost - and no risk of nuclear contamination. Stockpiling, and dealing with, nuclear waste is not the most pleasant topic, either.

Edited to add that they do it exactly the same way as the interconnectors between countries, only on a smaller scale.  We can import, or export 2GW to France, plus several other smaller connections to/from other places.  They all operate on DC transmission cables (use much smaller conductors for a given power) and then convert the DC to AC for connection to the grid.

Edited By not done it yet on 03/04/2018 10:26:13

Jon Gibbs03/04/2018 11:08:55
745 forum posts

I may be wrong but I'd expect that the concrete foundations (or ballast offshore) for such massive turbines are likely to create one heck of a carbon deficit before they even start turning.

I'd also prefer other sources of power - I was up the LD Western fells this last weekend and the view out over beyond Barrow was just a mass of windmills and it's arguable whether it's any better than Sellafield IMHO. Undersea noise pollution and bird hazards not withstanding.

Windmills may be great technology in their own right but I think it's no more than a short term band aid.

My fear is that our political classes (e.g. Gove) are more concerned with gestures such as over ivory rather than being concerned about the real issues such as B***it delaying potential progress with the JET Project (as well as other collaborative international projects in fusion energy) where the potential payoffs could be massive.


Edited By Jon Gibbs on 03/04/2018 11:16:00

KWIL03/04/2018 11:37:58
3562 forum posts
70 photos


Wind energy is NOT free, there is a high initial install cost and then maintenance as with any other generation system, that is not counting the eyesore blighting the countryside and off shore horizon. Intermittancy and there is another high cost of some form of energy storage. Please do not suggest the batteries in all those EVs that might be bought, that will only increase the cost of EVs with shorter battery life.

Edited By KWIL on 03/04/2018 11:38:40

Stephen Millward03/04/2018 11:47:31
23 forum posts

Renewables aren't free, but their cost is reducing far faster than anyone predicted and in many places they are now cheaper than fossil fuels. Saudi recently announced $200Bn for solar projects to reduce its reliance on oil. I think the storage issue will be solved by hydrogen. Personally I think a big off shore wind turbine is a thing of beauty, much better than an oil rig or power station.

Phil Whitley03/04/2018 12:11:51
1449 forum posts
147 photos

Hi Clive india, Yes, the turbines are intelligent, and the mains cannot ever be allowed to motor the alternator, because of the gearbox, and also for very good electrical reasons. There was a myth going round the anti-turbine circles that turbines had to be kept moving, and so actually drew current from the grid when there was no wind. Absolute b*ll*cks! The turbine has a small anemometer on top which constantly monitors wind speed and direction, and feeds the info down to the computer control in the base of the turbine. The computer also monitors demand from the grid. If there is usable wind, and demand, the brake is released and the turbine nacelle is moved to the most favourable position, and the blades are pitched to the best angle for maximum efficiency, and it begins to generate This is the only time it will use grid power to make these adjustments. Once generating, it constantly adjusts the position and pitch to ensure optimum output, and if demand falls , or wind drops or it is over ridden by a command from powergrid, it shuts down, and waits. On my six mile drive from home to my workshop, I pass about 40 turbines, ranging in size from 25kw to 500kw(or more, not really sure, they are BIG) they are almost always running, even though the trees are hardly moving. they do not need wind to generate, just air movement, and that is almost always present.Nuclear power is the most expensive way of boiling water on the planet, and its pollution record though well whitewashed is still atrocious. At full output, all the nukes combined can only produce about 24% of daily demand, and full output almost never happens, due to maintenance and refuelling. The nuclear industry remains solvent by having a unique deal with the grid, which will buy every Watt it can produce, and this leads to the ridiculous situation where wind and other forms of green power are turned off so that nuclear can sell every Watt! If they allowed wind to provide every watt it could produce daily, and only used Nuclear to top up, nuclear would be immediately unviable. as it is, most generation is by Combined cycle gas turbine, at around 40%. you can see the real story at, which will tell you what is generating what (Watt?), and gives details on the demand. It updates every 5 minutes.


Vic03/04/2018 12:18:33
3089 forum posts
16 photos

Solar seems to work in Australia?



not done it yet03/04/2018 12:23:08
6887 forum posts
20 photos


The energy is FREE. It costs nothing. Supplied indirectly by the Sun. I purposely avoided commenting on the ELECTRICITY generated from this FREE energy resource.

Energy used by the population is definitely not free - nor without some form of pollution and a lot of subsidy from taxpayers. So many of our housing stock is poorly insulated; apart from CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels, there are the other health issues related to particulates, acid rain, NOx, mercury and radioisotope emmissions (particularly from coal).

Agreed, success in fusion energy release/electricity generation would, hopefully, be far better than the current atomic fission reactors.  Filthy and dangerous places if something goes wrong.

I expect that new developments in the foundations or other forms of supporting these newer, larger, wind turbines will reduce the carbon footprint, but not something for me to worry about.

My only reference to EVs was in relation to energy usage during ‘off-peak’ hours (in relation to the joe public turbines comparison). EV batteries, used as an energy store for the grid could prove very useful.

You seem rather jaundiced in relation to changes for the better. One thing we cannot do is destroy our planet for our descendents for a short term head in the sand approach which I think might describe your views on energy supply and use.

Stephen’s reference to Saudi Arabia was about a 200GW solar installation. Luckily out of your line of sight. One of the largest oil producers going for FREE energy from our closest star. The UK uses about 50GW of electricity at peak periods. Puts it in perspective a little, perhaps.

Edited By not done it yet on 03/04/2018 12:28:03

larry Phelan03/04/2018 13:43:29
544 forum posts
17 photos

Nuclear power production reminds me of making something in the workshop,in that the job might turn out grand,but what the hell do you do with the waste if you cant recycle it ?

The big problem with Nuclear power has always been that no-one bothered to think one step ahead WHAT DO WE DO WITH THE WASTE????. The short answer is that no-one knows what to do with it,short of dumping it down a mine shaft,or using it to fill sinkholes [how would you like one of these under your house,or in your back yard ? ]

As in so many jobs I,ve seen over the years,the problems only show up because no-one bothered to stop and think about the next step.

Before somebody jumps down my neck about what,s my answer to the problem,the fact is I dont have one,any more than the so-called " Experts",but that is no reason to go mad over a system about we know so little.Bearing in mind the number of cock-ups we know of with Nuclear power,never mind the ones we never hear about,the whole idea of it makes me uneasy. I think anything else is worth looking at.

Dont be surprised if some day we end up buying power from,guess who----Saudi Arabia !!

Dont laugh,could happen.. They said one time that planes were a silly idea which would never get off the ground ! Hmmmmmm, maybe !

Neil Wyatt03/04/2018 14:10:01
19076 forum posts
736 photos
80 articles
Posted by Clive India on 03/04/2018 10:06:51:

I am familiar with closing diesel generators onto the mains (in parallel) - synchronise, close, increase throttle until generator produces required output. If the throttle is reduced, the mains starts to motor the generator.

Does anyone know if wind turbines do this automatically or, when the wind drops, do they just get driven by the grid?

In other words, how intelligent are they?

Edited By Clive India on 03/04/2018 10:25:42

They use inverters to synchronise with the grid. Big ones, but just the same principle as those fitted to household PVs to get the feed-in tariff.

Neil Wyatt03/04/2018 14:20:14
19076 forum posts
736 photos
80 articles
Posted by Phil Whitley on 03/04/2018 12:11:51:

I find that site fascinating, thanks for reminding us of it.

Roger B03/04/2018 14:44:55
192 forum posts
82 photos

Wind turbines do have significant maintenance and decommissioning costs. Up to now decommissioning has been simply ignored, when they break or are no longer profitable as the subsidies drop they are just left to decay.

The installers should be require to put the money up for removal back to a greenfield site. Bringing the big cranes back and removing the very large lump of concrete is not trivial in cost or environmental impact. This is very conveniently ignored.

There are already solutions for dealing with used nuclear fuel however they are in general not being implemented. Current nuclear power reactors are incremental developments of the reactors used to make plutonium for nuclear weapons. To produce the required quality they were designed for low burn up, in other words very little of the fuel is actually consumed. If the fuel is left in for a longer time different plutonium isotopes are produced that are not suitable for making bombs. Currently very little of the used fuel is reprocessed to recover the reusable fuel. There are also reactor designs with much higher burn up that can also use other materials from the spent fuel rods. Around 95% of what is generally called nuclear waste is actually a useful fuel.

I agree that used nuclear fuel is a very hazardous substance which requires specialized control and handling but the actual quantities are very small. A 1Gwe nuclear power plant will produce around 10 tonnes of used fuel per year. In view of the densities of the materials that is around 1m3.

not done it yet03/04/2018 14:49:38
6887 forum posts
20 photos

The guy that runs gridwatch is, apparently, a bit negative about wind energy - I’ve never noticed, but there are sites which include the embedded wind generation. An estimate, obviously, but the real wind generation is considerably higher than gridwatch records.

Before off-shore installations, the difference was about a third more than reported. Obviosly that margin has declined.

Jon Gibbs03/04/2018 14:52:06
745 forum posts

This makes interesting reading... **LINK**

...some facts and figures.


Phil Whitley03/04/2018 15:34:58
1449 forum posts
147 photos

Roger B, Decommisioning costs are completely insignificant when you consider the estimated £70 BILLION for the clean up at Sellafield, where they are already more than three years behind schedule, and have admitted that there are some areas of the site which are so contaminated that they don't even know IF they can clean them up. Add to that the widespread beach and sea pollution which the Irish government are still taking legal action over, and it makes a large block of concrete look positively friendly! I have never seen an abandoned wind turbine, if the site is viable, they will just bolt a replacement to the existing foundations. In rural East Yorkshire, where I live, they have made an amazing difference to our supply, by eradicating volts drop brownouts we used to get especially during the heavy agricultural harvest seasons for grain and potatoes. if you are worried about the concrete, just imagine how much goes into a new nuclear power station!

Tim Stevens03/04/2018 15:39:05
1622 forum posts

It is an interesting experience to see how these big blades are delivered. Often to the tops of hills (of course) in country not well served by main roads or even two-lane roads. Trees are felled, telephones un-wired, traffic diverted (or just stopped) - but let's hope that it does actually save the planet.

No-one in high places seems to realised - yet - that increasing increases (yes) in the population means that we are going to run out ever quicker. The question is - what will run out first? Clean Air, drinking water, places for housing, places for power stations, materials such as copper, lithium, neodymium, ...

But I expect it will be OK until I've gone, so what do I (or the Pope) care?

Cheers, Tim

Roger B03/04/2018 15:55:02
192 forum posts
82 photos


The estimated £70 Billion is to decommission the all the nuclear power stations and all the nuclear debris left over from bomb manufacture (not part of civil nuclear power). If you calculate the output of the civil nuclear power stations over their life span the decommissioning cost is around 4p/kwh.

Here are some abandoned wind turbines:


Best regards


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