NREL Installs Two Giant Wind Turbines for Testing

John Davis

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado has installed two of the biggest wind turbines ever tested at the facility.

The video above shows workers putting up the 220 tons of wind turbine parts for the 253-foot diameter blades. This story in says they’ll be able to generate 1.5 megawatts of power:

“This turbine is a modern, utility-scale machine that will serve as a general-purpose research platform,” said Fort Felker, director of the wind center.

Thousands of similar turbines are already being used at wind farms across the country, but the blades on those machines need to keep spinning, generating as much electricity as possible and working to recoup investments in the farm.

But at the wind center, researchers will be able to tweak the turbine to get the most energy possible from the available wind in an effort to close the already-shrinking gap between the cost of wind energy and the cost of electricity from fossil fuels.

“Wind energy is cost-effective now, but there are lots of opportunities to be more reliable and more efficient,” said David Simms, manager of testing and operations. “We’re trying to figure out how to get more wind turbines out there that are more effective.”

The article goes on to say that an even bigger wind turbine with a rotor diameter of 331 feet will be put up at NREL’s National Wind Technology Center later this year. Researchers believe the extreme wind conditions, along with snow, ice, lightning and severe storms, in that part of Colorado will be a great testing ground to see how much the big blades can take.