Wind Turbines - Is Bigger Always Better?
The use of wind turbines as an energy alternative has grown significantly in recent years, enough so that researchers are now able to study a large sample of wind turbine usage. A recent study of European commercial scale wind turbines has demonstrated that the harvesting ratio of wind turbines has steadily increased with time.
The harvesting ratio refers to the amount of energy produced by the turbines in comparison to the amount of energy invested in their construction and operation. Essentially, the harvesting ratio measures the energy efficiency of the wind turbines. Researchers believe that the improvement in the efficiency of wind turbines is a direct result of turbines steadily increasing in size over recent years.
Over the last few decades, the size of wind turbines has multiplied by 400 percent. While a larger turbine doesn’t require significantly more energy to build, it does yield significantly greater energy production. This has helped to boost the harvesting ratio.
So how does a larger wind turbine produce more wind energy? The answer is the design of the turbine. In the case of a propeller style wind turbine, the size of the blade radius (blade radius squared) determines how much power can potentially be produced. Therefore, a larger turbine (with larger blades) equals exponentially greater energy production.
But is bigger always better? There are some issues that arise with larger wind turbines and it is horses for courses in terms of the energy required to be produced from the turbine.
Problems with Larger Turbines
The first problem you might encounter when dealing with a large wind turbine is cost. A larger turbine will cost significantly more than a smaller turbine to purchase. Of course, in return you gain greater energy production. The larger initial investment can prevent you from being able to purchase a larger wind turbine in the first place.
The larger the wind turbine, the greater the engineering challenge it poses. Fortunately, new lightweight composite materials have helped to lighten the load that large turbines must bear, but the issue has not been eliminated. A larger wind turbine will always cost more both in terms of purchase, repair and maintenance.
Use of Space
Larger turbines take up more space. They take up more space both on the ground, at the foot of the structure, and in the air. Regulations and other laws can prevent structures, including wind turbines, of excessive height. Even if you want a larger wind turbine, you may not legally be able to install one on your property. There is the possibility that you can get around some regulations, but that may come at the detriment of your relationship with your neighbours.
These issues tend to affect large scale enterprise wind solutions. Don’t let these issues cloud your vision when it comes to installing a smaller wind turbine. Let us work with you to ensure you choose the turbine that best suits your particular needs.
When in doubt about the size of the wind turbine you need, contact our experts at Windpower Technology. We specialise in helping customers reduce their energy costs and minimize their carbon footprint by implementing wind power. We choose only the highest quality wind turbines, so you can trust that any turbine we install is one of the best on the market. Let us put our passion for renewable energy to work for you. Contact Windpower Technology today to learn more.