The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Manwell Comments on Plans for a Colossal New GE Wind Turbine Larger than the Seattle Space Needle

James Manwell

James Manwell

James F. Manwell, an international expert on offshore wind energy, the director of the UMass Amherst Wind Energy Center, and a professor in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, recently commented on the NBC News MACH science and technology website about plans for General Electric’s gigantic new offshore wind turbine, the Haliade-X, which will stand 853-feet tall when built. For comparison, that will make the Haliade-X slightly smaller than the Eiffel Tower (1,063 feet) and slightly larger than the Seattle Space Needle (605 feet). But Manwell said it’s not yet clear how large offshore wind turbines can get. The NBC News MACH story was reported in Inland News Today.

As the wind power market continues to grow, experts expect turbine size will grow as well. But as for just how big turbines will become, “it is not yet clear,” James Manwell, director of the Wind Energy Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told MACH in an email.

“Classical scaling laws have indicated that the weight of wind turbine rotors will increase as the cube of the diameter while the power generated as the square,” he said. “This would predict a limit at some point in the size of the rotors as they could get too heavy.” (Source: NBC News)

As the article in Inland News noted about the size of the Haliade-X, “That’s more than three times taller than typical wind turbines, which top out at about 260 feet, and almost three times taller than the Statue of Liberty. GE says the Haliade-X will also be the world’s most powerful offshore wind turbine, capable of generating 67 gigawatt-hours a year under typical wind conditions. That’s 45 percent more than any existing offshore turbine and enough energy to provide the needs of 16,000 households.”

Wind power now provides about 5.6 percent of U.S. electricity needs, according to the U.S. Energy Information Association. That’s up from 4.7 percent in 2015 and 3.5 percent in 2012. The U.S. Department of Energy predicts that wind energy could supply 35 percent of the nation’s energy by 2050. (April 2018)