This article discusses an innovation in wind turbine design, based on palm trees. Blades for a 50-megawatt turbine would be at least 200 meters long, equal to two football fields.
A team of researchers is working to complete the design for a novel 50-megawatt offshore wind turbine, nearly six times more powerful than a record-setting 8.8-megawatt turbine recently deployed off the coast of Scotland. Testing will begin on prototype blades this summer in Colorado.
The massive turbine marks an about-face from conventional wind turbine design. The standard wind turbine installed today is a three-bladed machine positioned with the blades facing incoming winds.
The blades for the so-called Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotor (SUMR) wind turbine would, conversely, face downwind. The “go-with-the-flow” design was inspired by palm trees, which have evolved to withstand hurricane gales.