“The economics work better as the turbines get bigger—and the name of the game is economics,” says Bob Thresher, director of the National Wind Technology Center, a federal lab in Boulder, CO. The goal of industry and federal researchers is to create wind farms that produce electricity for about three cents per kilowatt-hour, down from about 4.5 cents today; that would beat the cost of fuel for the most efficient new gas-fired power plants—currently about 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. If the development process goes well, Thresher says, these huge turbines should be ready for widespread wind farm use in 2012.
At the same time, there is such a thing as too big:
…relying on superbig machines is not without risk, notes John McGowan, a mechanical engineer and wind energy expert at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The bigger the turbines get, the higher the cost if one of them fails. “Sooner or later, they are going to make one too big,” says McGowan, “and they are going to lose their shirt.”
Also, just noticed that Eric comments on this idea over at The View from Kirby Mountain…
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