A problem with being an early adopter is that sometimes you’re left with a product that has been rendered obsolete and out of date by its future iterations. This isn’t a big deal if you have the money to keep upgrading to newer versions, but unfortunately this can’t be said for wind turbine installations.
While wind turbines are used as a green alternative source of energy, they aren’t very efficient and usually requires possibly thousands of turbines in order to equate to a single coal-fired plant. Naturally scientists and researchers want to improve on this, and according to a paper in the Environmental Science and Technology, it has been found that more efficient turbines can be created by making the towers higher, and the rotors longer.
Unfortunately this means that wind farm operator will have to replace all their current turbines with new ones, or does it? According to GE, they have found that this might not necessarily have to be the case, as they can swap out the current rotors with new ones. It sounds simple on paper, but it’s actually more complicated as the blades have been very carefully and specifically designed.
What GE has done is that they have managed to figure out a way to replace those blades. This is done by cutting the 120 foot blade in half, insert a 23 foot extension, which is then blended into the original blade’s curve. According to GE, this will allow for the turbines to gather power even at low wind speeds, while at the same time boosting power output by as much as 20%.
The modified blades have since managed to exceed the standards set by the International Electrotechnical Commission in both static and fatigue tests, with the blades being put through 6 million cycles. If you’re curious about GE’s efforts, check out the video above to see the blade extension program in action.