Currently, the record for the world’s largest wind turbine is held by the Enercon E-126. Its rotor diameter is 126 m (413 ft) and its height is a towering 98 m (650 ft). It was originally designed to generate 6 MW of electricity, but recent modifications by Enercon have updated its output to 7 MW. The E-126’s claim as the world’s largest wind turbine may be in jeopardy, though. News from Vestas Wind Systems indicates they have designed an offshore wind turbine with a rotor diameter of 164 meters (538 ft) that should also be able to generate 7MW.
To put that kind of size in perspective, Vestas illustrates a single rotor blade’s length as being longer than 9 double decker London buses lined up end to end. According to Vestas, the enormity of the turbine’s design is due to consideration of the extremely high offshore high winds it will need to endure as well as a desire to generate a high amount of power.
Vestas explains that, during the development of the V164-7.0 MW turbine, they ran two separate R&D programs. One pursued the use of a direct drive system, the other a geared system. The company decided on a “medium-speed direct drive” solution. They maintain that this approach keeps costs down-an important consideration for project viability- and is also a tried and tested system that supports reliability.
The V164-7.0 MW turbine is still in its design phase. The company says they plan on producing prototypes in Q4 of 2012 and aim to start production of the turbine sometime in 2015, though that will depend on funding from a “significant backlog” of pre-orders. So, for now at least, the E-126’s record stands.