Boulder's Gigantic Wind Turbines: Are Those People!?

Image credit: Big Green Boulder and National Renewable Energy Laboratory

They might not be quite the scale of the 6MW wind turbine that Justin wrote about in Germany, nor the concept for a 9MW vertical axis wind turbine that the Scottish reportedly have in the works. Nevertheless, researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, are pretty excited about their opportunity to tinker with a gigantic 1.5MW turbine that has just been installed. To get an idea of the scale, check out the picture on the left - yes those are teeny tiny little people in the shaft! And even bigger is to follow. According to Big Green Boulder, the 1.5MW General Electric wind turbine was erected over three days, and represents a major upgrade of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's National Wind Technology Center in Boulder. But come the Fall, even the GE turbine will be dwarfed by a 2.3MW Siemens turbine that will be among the largest in the US - generating 30% more power than the GE - despite standing at the same height (262.5 feet). Project leader Lee Jay Fingersh argues that it is important for the research center to stay abreast of the latest in turbine technology:

"It's as large as any turbine in North America. The final design is different than most turbines with a different blade shape. Land-based turbines are getting larger to meet the demand for wind energy. This is the direction of the wind industry and we want to understand the aerodynamics of these new, larger machines."

Turbines like this are unlikely to please the NIMBY anti-wind crowd, but we'll just have to keep reminding them that wind turbines as bird-killers are largely an eco-myth - and that climate change is no fun to have in your backyard either!

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