How big can wind turbines get?

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

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