One of the largest turbines in the world could soon be swinging its blades on an Australia wind farm.
The new turbine, developed by engineering giant GE, stands 240 metres tall from the ground to the tip of its rotors. That compares to an average tip height in current wind farms of between 130 metres and 160 metres tall.
The turbines have been created for use in low-wind regions, such as Australia, with 77-metre long carbon blades requiring less wind speed to turn.
The output is also greater with the turbines able to provide up to 30 per cent more power than those in use at facilities like AGL’s Silverton wind farm.
“It is well suited for low to medium wind speed regions around the world—examples include Germany, Turkey and Australia—as well as for mechanisms like auctions, as countries around the world are putting an increased emphasis on lowering the cost of energy,” said Pete McCabe president of GE’s onshore wind business.
A protoytpe will be in operation in Europe next year and available in Australian in 2019. GE is major player in the burgeoning wind farm sector in Australia and this is the companies second largest market worldwide.
GE also claims the design of the turbine enables faster installation as the machine’s smaller turbine head allows smaller cranes to be used in wind farm construction.
According to the Australian Energy Market Operator, there is more than 19,000 MW of proposed new energy capacity forecast to come online in the coming years, with nearly two-thirds from wind generation sources, driven in part by the rapidly falling costs of renewable technologies.
Each turbine is capable of generating 4.8 megawatts, with approximately 100 needed to replace a typical 400 MW turbine in a coal fired power station. A single wind turbine is capable of powering 5000 homes annually with GE claiming can operate in higher wind speeds than other designs.
According to the manufacturer, operational noise levels have also been lowered to 104 dBA, or the sound of a loud drum nearby, and potentially as low as 100 dBA in certain conditions, addressing one of the key concerns to wind turbine installations.
In the first 14 months of its existence, the federal government’s Wind Farm Commission dealt with 90 complaints, nearly half of which related to noise, this is despite the fact the Australian Medical Association has found no link “support the view that the infrasound or low-frequency sound generated by wind farms causes adverse health effects on populations residing in their vicinity”.
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