Just when you thought the wind industry's obsession with size was over, and we'd reached the practical optimum in terms of wind turbine size, scientiests have come forward to claim that a single mega-turbine would be capable of providing electricity for a year for between 15,000 and 20,000 households. This isn't from the back-room back of ciggy packet fumblings of amateurs, but boffins appointed by the European Union for a five year period that begun at the end of last year. It's called the Innwind project and involves 27 different institutions including scientists at three British universities – Sheffield, Strathclyde and Bristol.
The scientists say that the super turbine's blades would each be about 410ft long and sit on a tower 700ft high, making the structure, from base to the tips of the blades, about 1,100ft high, taller than The Shard in London, western Europe’s tallest building (pictured here).
Peter Hjuler Jensen of the Technical University of Denmark, who is the the project’s coordinator, said:
“This is something we will see in the coming years. Everybody would like these to be built within 10 years.”
However before London anti-wind campaigners start spluttering over their Cornflakes, Mr Jensen also said it is most likely the turbines would be built at sea- the comparison with the Shard was just for illustrative purposes. It would also require new techniques for building foundations more cheaply. However he hasn't ruled out some of these Mega Turbines being sited on land in remote places, such as the US Great Plains.
Sceptics claim that the costs would be too high and the turbines would be prone to breakdown and prohibitive maintenance costs.
At present the biggest wind turbines are currently capable of producing about 8MW using blades about 180ft long.