One of the barriers to widespread development of wind power is the wind itself: while it blows like crazy in places like Kansas, Texas and South Dakota, as well as off-shore, other locations just don’t get the wind speeds that would make this form of generation economically viable. That may change somewhat if the new STAR wind turbine blades by Knight & Carver (who’s other main product, interestingly enough, is luxury boats) performs as planned. The blades are designed to work on wind turbines located in areas with lower wind speeds: according to their press materials,
With the name “STAR” – which stands for “Sweep Twist Adaptive Rotor” – the blade is the first of its kind ever built. Its most distinctive characteristic is a gently curved tip, which unlike the vast majority of blades in current use, is specially designed for low-wind-speed regions.
Sized overall at 27.5 meters (approx. 90’2″) x 2.4 meters (approx. 7’8″), the blade takes maximum advantage of all wind speeds, including marginal speeds. Instead of the traditional linear shape, the blade features a curvature toward the trailing edge, designed to relieve pressure on the blade and turbine drive train.
“Depending on the wind farm’s site, this blade will capture between 5 and 10 percent more energy,” said Gary Kanaby, Knight & Carver’s Blade Division Manager.
The blades have already received the DOE’s “Outstanding Research and Development Partnership Award,” and the department has placed a high priority on developing the technology to take advantage of wind resources that haven’t been considered commercially viable. Apparently, these things take quite a bit of time and energy to build — a second one isn’t slated for completion until the end of the year. Still, this could give a boost to wind power development nationally.