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The Chrysler Building – still bigger than a wind turbine.

A New York Times article today by Kate Galbraith explores how advances in technology have led to more reliable and efficient wind turbines. And one of the ways to get a wind turbine to produce more energy is to make it bigger.

Obviously, as with airplane wings, there are structural limitations to how big a turbine blade can be. So how big can a wind turbine get? Galbraith cites an EU report that says a 20 MW turbine, with each blade 120 meters long, was “feasible.”

How big would that be? Well, if we assume a tower height roughly twice as high as the blade, or 240 meters, that would make the turbine 360 meters tall from base to blade tip, or just slightly taller than the Chrysler Building in New York.

A single blade, if laid on the ground in Wrigley Field, would extend from home plate to just shy of the outfield wall.

Photo by David Perez via Creative Commons

Ken Paulman

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.