Bigger and Better

$10 billion dollar startup GE Renewable Energy just unveiled their largest high efficiency wind turbine to date. The turbine is designed for onshore usage and stands 240 meters (787 feet) tall with a rotor diameter of 158 meters (518 feet). The company claims the 4.8 megawatt turbine will be able to generate enough electricity to power up to 5,000 homes when placed in low and medium wind sites.

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When wind power was first being explored, high wind sites were a priority, for obvious reasons. Now, the focus has shifted toward producing as much power as possible from low and medium wind sites, and as such, GE has designed this particular turbine with those conditions in mind.

"The 4.8–158 design is an important next step in turbine technology and efficiency, and we’re excited to introduce this turbine at this moment in time," Pete McCabe, president and CEO of GE's onshore wind business, said in a GE press release. "It is well suited for low to medium wind speed regions worldwide — examples include Germany, Turkey, and Australia."

Land and Sea

Onshore and offshore wind farms each have distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Offshore wind farms are less likely to cause backlash from residents who feel that turbines are an eyesore. As they are stationed out at sea, these farms can also be larger, like the turbines rated at 8.5 megawatts that are currently being installed at the Walney Extension West facility off the coast of the U.K.

However, constructing and maintaining offshore turbines is more complicated and expensive. New innovations like this, which combine the best elements of both kinds of wind farms, will be essential to the continued adoption of the renewable energy technology.

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