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The art of transporting Spain’s largest wind turbine blade

The largest wind turbine blade manufactured in Spain to date, 73.5m (241ft), was transported from the factory to the port in Castellón, Spain on October 20th. LM Wind Power, the manufacturer, filmed the 3.5 hour, 45km (28m) trip show off their product – and made an entertaining mini-film to boot.

The factory in Castellón has been manufacturing wind turbine blades since 2007. LM Wind Power is a subsidiary of GE Renewables. LM is also the manufacturer of the world’s largest wind turbine blade as well – 88.5m (290ft) – almost the length of a football field (I put a video of that moving process after the article).

After delivery to the port, the turbine blades will move via ship to Merkur, Germany. There they’ll be part of an offshore wind farm powered by GE’s Haliade 150-6 MW turbine. In total, 198 turbine blades will be manufactured at the Spanish factory for this project.

The project managers think the first delivery time of 3.5 hours will be shortened to 3 hours, reaching an average speed of 15kmh (9mph), as the drivers gain experience.

Personally, I held my breath at 1m51s in the video as the blade danced around the edge of the curving highway walls. There’s a very pleased transportation engineer somewhere watching that scene over and over.

The length of a wind turbine blade, along with wind speed of course, directly drives the amount of energy produced. The area that a blade covers as it turns is called the ‘swept area’ – and it’s from this swept area that energy is captured.

The factory where these blades are made also makes 37.3m blades – the current 73.5m are just under double the size. Accounting for hub size, the swept area of a 37.3m blade is 4,608m2 – the 73.5m blade is almost 3.9 times greater at 17,860m2. A few more calculations, and we see that 11.2MW of power could be extracted from swept area of the 73.5m blade versus 2.9MW for the 37.5m blade in 12 meter/s wind speeds at sea level. An output difference of that same 3.9 times for a blade about double in length.

An aside, both of these blades pull from an area of sky that has significantly more potential power to extract than the generator that the blades are tied to. See comment conversation for longer discussion.

Edits made to the math in above two paragraphs after feedback from a LM Wind Power employee in the comment section – thanks Mark from LM!

An image of the blade on LM Wind Power’s Instagram once it reached the port in Castellón.

Electrek’s Take

The wind industry, much like the solar industry, is in a time of great expansion. As a part of watching an industry in flux we’ve gotten to see, in a compressed period, the first floating wind farmdeclining solar prices, the tallest wind turbine, the fastest car, a totally new type of solar-powered shingles, and so many other cool – world-changing – technologies.

Lucky us.

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