GE Begins Work on Advanced Wind Turbine Blade Technology

December 10 2012

US Electrics Company GE has teamed up with the Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to develop advanced wind turbine blade technology that could put wind energy on an equal economic footing with fossil fuels, GE have announced. "GE's weaving an advanced wind blade that could be the fabric of our clean energy future," said Wendy Lin, a GE principal engineer and leader on the US Department of Energy's advanced research projects agency (ARPA-E) project. "The fabric we're developing will be tough, flexible, and easier to assemble and maintain. It represents a clear path to making wind even more cost competitive with fossil fuels." The $5.6 million ARPA-E project will span three years. According to GE, this new blade design could reduce blade costs 25%-40%, making wind energy as economical as fossil fuels without government subsidies. GE's research will focus on the use of architectural fabrics, as opposed to conventional fiberglass, which would be wrapped around a metal “space frame”, resembling a fishbone. Fabric would be tensioned around ribs which run the length of the blade and specially designed to meet the demands of wind blade operations. Advancements in blade technology will help spur the development of larger, lighter turbines that can capture more wind at lower wind speeds, and allow for rotor diameters in excess of the current limit of 120 meters.

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