The UK’s Energy Technology Institute will invest $24.53 million (£15.5 million) in a new turbine blade with U.K. based Blade Dynamics, to build what may be the world’s largest wind turbine blades. The U.K.’s Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) appointed the company to develop and demonstrate technologies for constructing what are expected to be the world’s longest wind turbine blades ever built.
As part of the project, the ETI will become an equity investor in the Isle of Wight-based blade developer, helping with technology development and letting the company grow its workforce by up to a third. This is the second time in 12 months that the ETI has undertaken a private equity investment to develop new technologies.
The ETI commissioned and funded project will be delivered using BladeDynamics’ design and manufacturing processes that construct blades by assembling smaller, more accurate, and easily manufactured pieces, rather than from extremely large and expensive full-length moldings.
The project plans on prototype blades ready for production by late 2014. Structural testing for the first blade is then expected at a UK test facility. A project goal is to design a blade that weighs up to 40% less than a conventional glass-fiber blade of the same length, which will allow significant weight and cost savings throughout the rest of the turbine. The design will also help reduce the cost of the energy produced.
The intended end use for the blade is on the next generation of large offshore wind turbines currently under development with capacities of 8 to 10 MW. This compares with the 5 to 6-MW capacity turbines currently deployed offshore.
The first stage of the project will focus on blade design in collaboration with a major turbine OEM. The project will also test detailed design and manufacturing technologies, extending Blade Dynamics’ current experience from manufacturing 49m blades.
A second stage of the project will establish and demonstrate the proposed manufacturing processes on blades designed for a current 6-MW turbine. A design will also be developed for blades for future 8 to10 MW turbines. Final project stages are intended to test and verify the prototype blade performance against the predicted performance.
Energy Technologies Institute