Massive wind turbine blade arrives in Massachusetts for testing

Key Points
  • As technology develops, the size of wind turbines is increasing.
  • GE Renewable Energy aims to commercialize its Haliade-X 12MW wind turbine by 2021
Aram Boghosian for GE Renewable Energy

A huge wind turbine blade measuring 107-meters long has been transported to a facility in Massachusetts for testing.

The blade is designed to be used on GE Renewable Energy's Haliade-X 12MW offshore wind turbine.

In a statement earlier this week, GE Renewable Energy said the blade would be subjected to a "series of fatigue tests" at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center's Wind Technology Testing Center. The blade was transported to the testing facility via ship.

The firm is aiming to commercialize the Haliade-X 12MW by 2021. With a capacity of 12 megawatts and a height of 260 meters, the scale of the turbine is considerable. The company has repeatedly described it as "the world's largest offshore wind turbine" and says that one turbine will be able to power more than 5,000 U.S. homes.

As technology develops, the size of wind turbines is increasing. In September 2018, for example, MHI Vestas Offshore Wind launched the V164-10.0 MW. The turbine has 80-meter long blades which weigh 35 tons each, and a tip height of around 187 meters.

Looking at the bigger picture, last week a report from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) stated that the U.S. was home to more than 100 gigawatts (GW) of wind energy capacity.

The AWEA's "U.S. Wind Industry Third Quarter 2019 Market Report" says that 1,927 megawatts – a little under 2 GW – of wind power capacity was commissioned in the third quarter of 2019.

This represents the highest third quarter on record for installations, according to the trade association. These installations pushed overall capacity above the landmark figure of 100 GW, the AWEA's report said.

While the onshore wind market in the U.S. has undergone significant development in recent years, its offshore sector is still nascent.

The country's first offshore wind farm, the five turbine, 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm off Rhode island, only commenced commercial operations in late 2016.

By comparison, Europe is home to over 18,400 MW of installed offshore wind capacity, according to industry body WindEurope.