I n the world of wind energy there is constant research taking place, much of which is leading to improved means of creating renewable energy. When many think of wind energy, thoughts turn to the Netherlands and old fashioned windmills. Some other may recollect large “wind farms” full of white propeller looking windmills that tower above the ground and turn at great speeds. These large, white power creating devices are not windmills though, but wind turbines and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is out trying to make the technology behind them better.
In collaboration with Siemens, the DOE has undertaken an R&D project that will study the performance and effectiveness of land-based turbines. The project will utilize a 2.3 megawatt fan with a 331-foot diameter rotor near Boulder, Colorado. The tests for this large turbine will hopefully user in a future of increased turbine use to the U.S., decreasing the use of brown energy to create electricity. The idea behind engaging in such research is to increase the amount of renewable energy that is fed into the grids of the U.S.. In addition to other forms of green energy, the DOE looks to decrease dependence on brown energy (oil, coal, non-renewable sources) from domestic and foreign suppliers.
The research being conducted is vitally important, thought there are a few difficulties with turbines of such a large design. While the turbines may look lithe, they usually weigh 400-800 tons. Due to this, they can only be installed on certain types of land, limiting their potential effectiveness. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have devoted 5m to the process, while Siemens have contributed 9m to the initial stages of research. The research conducted will test the recent improvements of wind technology, the ability of turbines to sustain potentially destructive weather as well as the amount of noise the spinning blades of the turbine can potentially produce.