A new wind turbine blade design that researchers at Sandia National Laboratories developed in partnership with Knight & Carver promises to be more efficient than current designs. It should significantly reduce the cost-of-energy of wind turbines for site with low wind speed. Named "STAR" for Sweep Twist Adaptive Rotor, its most distinctive characteristic is a gently curved tip, termed "sweep," which unlike the vast majority of blades in current use, is specially designed for low wind speed regions like the Midwest. The sites targeted by this effort have annual average wind speeds of 5.8 meters per second, measured at 10-meter height. Such sites are numerous in the U.S. and would increase by 20-fold the available land area that can be economically developed for wind energy.
The first STAR blade was tested in January at Knight & Carver's fabrication facility in San Diego to determine its bending and twist behavior due to static loads. Natural frequencies were also measured. This data will be compared to design simulations to determine how well the design concept performs. Four additional blades will be fabricated in the first quarter of 2007 — three of which will be flight-tested on a turbine in Iowa. :: Via Newswise and CCNMag