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Increasing energy capture through the use of larger rotors has the single largest impact on wind turbine cost of energy. Turbine OEMs are pushing the envelope of design, moving toward aero-elastic tailored blades that enable heightened turbine performance while minimising fatigue loads. Carbon fibre and automated production processes are being harnessed in support of these new advanced airfoil designs. Other turbine OEMs are focused on traditional materials and improving blade aerodynamics to achieve similar results, while others still are focused on blade trailing edge enhancements that minimise noise.

Wind turbine blades are the turbine’s primary energy conversion components and continue to be a critical focus area of wind turbine technology. Over the years, the continuing evolution of blade lengths to address a need for more efficient low wind speed turbines was the dominant trend in this segment of the technology space. This market dynamic has not abated, and as the first wave of low wind speed turbines reaches commercialisation, a host of alternative offerings are being announced to further supplement product portfolios.

Despite the issues associated with blade design for larger multi-MW turbines, blade length evolution has not reached its peak, and lessons learned from R&D endeavours will facilitate yet another push by turbine vendors to accomplish the following:

  • Drive their latest IEC III turbines into IEC II wind classes (with conditions on turbulence intensity, wind shear, and other wind farm climate characteristics);
  • Interpolate between existing blade offerings to enhance existing IEC II wind turbines while new low wind speed turbines are proven out;
  • Sharing of blade designs among MW-class and multi-MW-class turbine platforms.

Read more on the trends in the wind turbine blades from this report in Renewable Energy World