Over the winter of 2013, pieces of the world’s largest wind turbine were carefully put into place on a beach in Scotland, and is now generating enough power for nearly 5,000 homes.
Calling the Samsung 7 MW prototype off-shore wind turbine “big” is actually a bit of an understatement. To borrow from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, this wind turbine “is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is.” Just looking at the aerial view of the staging site gives you an idea of how huge this wind turbine really is. And, think of it, it’s actually bigger than the last “biggest” wind turbine on the planet, in Belgium. The heavy equipment being used to move these pieces around look downright cute, by comparison:
Located just 50 m off the water’s edge, calling it “off-shore” is a bit of a stretch, but its proportions are truly mind-boggling. Topping out at 196 m in height, the colossal wind turbine sweeps 23,020 m2, a diameter of 171.2 m. The three 83.5 m blades, for example, were manufactured in Kirkeby, Denmark, and then had to be shipped via truck and barge to their final destination in Fife, Scotland. In spite of their *cough* lightweight construction, they still weigh in at over 30 tons each. The nacelle itself, to which the blades are mounted, weighs nearly 550 tons.
For now, this is the only example of the world’s largest wind turbine, as it is still in prototype stage. It will run for the next five years to see how it reacts to the harsh environment. The future of off-shore renewable energy generation could depend, in large part, to how well the blades and nacelle of the Samsung 7 MW wind turbine perform, in wind speeds of up to 56 mph, as well as battering waves and the like.
Image © Samsung Heavy Industries, Graham Civil Engineering