Scientists hoping to create the longest blade in the world for the next generation of wind turbines took another step closer to realising their dream this week.
The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has signed a £15.5million contract with the Isle of Wight-based blade developer Blade Dynamics to work on “ultra-large” blades stretching between 80 to 100 metres long.
Wind turbine blades deployed offshore at the moment reach between 60 to 75 metres in length.
The ETI funded project will use carbon fibre rather than conventional fibre glass, which will help the blades weigh up to 40% less than conventional glass-fibre blades.
Prototype blades should be made and ready to go into production by late 2014. Structural testing for the first blade is then expected to take place at a UK test facility.
They are intended to work with the next generation of large offshore wind turbines currently being made with a capacity of 8 to 10MW.
Critics of wind power say it is too expensive and could lump more costs on consumer bills but developers believe lighter and longer blades will prevent this.
Paul Trinick, Offshore Wind Project Manager at the ETI said: “Along with improved system reliability, the impact of larger blades is a crucial factor in helping to bring down the costs of generating electricity offshore.”
David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science said the technology could potentially be “world-leading”, adding: “The project could vastly improve the manufacturing process of very large turbine blades, as well as helping to reduce the cost of the energy generated.”