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20MW turbines could be available by 2020

EUROPE: The trend for increasingly larger wind turbines has received a boost from an EU-funded research project.

Enercon's 7.5MW E-126 is currently the largest turbine in production
Enercon's 7.5MW E-126 is currently the largest turbine in production

The UpWind research project, which aimed to explore the design limits of turbines, claims products with a capacity as high as 20MW are feasible. However, it said the existing designs would need to be substantially revamped if such a project was to come to fruition.

Netherlands Energy Research Centre senior scientist Jos Beurskens, who was involved in the UpWind project, said 20MW turbines could be in service by 2020 providing they were cost effective.

But, Beurskens said the project pointed out the technical areas requiring innovation, such as the blades.

A 20MW turbine would need a 200 metre blade, so fatigue loads would need to be lowered. This could be achieved be utilising individual blade control, using more flexible materials and making the blade in two sections, which could each be controlled separately.

The 15MW Azimut project, is currently the biggest turbine development programme in the pipeline. The project consists of 11 Spanish companies, including global giants Iberdrola, Acciona and Alstom Wind and Gamesa.

Enercon's E-126 7.5MW turbine is the biggest turbine that is commerically available.

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