Innovation

The world's most powerful offshore wind turbine is open for business

It's just a prototype, but there will soon be more of them.

syeols/Shutterstock

A prototype of what’s being called the “world’s most powerful offshore wind turbine” is now generating energy. GE Renewable Energy’s Haliade-X 12 MW wind turbine is operating off the coast of the Netherlands, and it is sending power to the Dutch utility Eneco.

The wind turbine is almost 900 feet tall and each blade is over 300 feet long. Essentially, each blade is a football field in length. As the prototype’s name suggests, it has a capacity of 12 megawatts (MW). It recently set a world record by generating 262 MWh of clean energy in 24 hours, which is enough to power 30,000 homes.

John Lavelle, CEO of Offshore Wind at GE Renewable Energy, said in a statement that the Haliade-X will soon be available to the mass market.

“Along with the industry’s compelling value proposition, technology innovation is a key driver of the offshore wind market. Because it is the most powerful machine in the industry, the Haliade-X allows our customers to drive down the cost of wind energy and speed the adoption of clean, renewable energy,” Lavelle said. “The testing that the prototype will undergo is one part of a multi-faceted testing process that will enable us to commercialize the Haliade-X by 2021, just in time for the strong growth uptick we are seeing in offshore wind worldwide.”

The area where the wind turbine is operating near Rotterdam in the Netherlands.Frans Berkelaar/Flickr

GE will continue to test the Haliade-X over the next five years. The company sees these larger turbines as the future of the industry. The wind energy industry is growing quickly, even if certain presidents are worried about “windmill cancer”.

“The global offshore wind market is projected to grow from just over 20 GW today to 190 GW by 2030 according the Global Wind Energy Council, and the International Energy Agency has projected that the total investment in offshore wind could top $1 trillion by 2040,” the company wrote in a press release.

According to renewable energy experts at Yale, GE is right to be investing in larger turbines. In a blog post from earlier this year, they wrote that “larger, more efficient wind turbines” can generate about twice as much energy as the smaller wind turbines we’re used to. They claim these larger turbines will help drive growth in the wind industry.

A report put out by the U.S. Department of Energy earlier this year claims 7,588 MW worth of onshore wind turbines were installed last year, and 25,824 MW worth of wind turbines is in the process of being installed offshore. Wind currently generates almost 7 percent of the nation’s electricity.

See also: Wind Energy: How Bigger Turbines Could Reduce Prices and Boost Power

Wind energy is now significantly cheaper than using coal to produce energy, which is why the coal industry is on the verge of a total collapse and the wind industry is growing. Solar energy is also cheaper than coal energy.

Though the wind energy industry is growing, it hasn’t been getting a whole lot of support from the U.S. government under the Trump administration. While Trump tries to save the coal industry, which is doomed to fail, wind is moving forward anyway. It seems renewable energy could indeed be the future.

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