20 Megawatt wind turbines are feasible, according to a new report from the EU-funded UpWind project. The group explored the design limits of upscaling wind turbines to 20 Megawatt (MW) and found that they would have rotor diameters of around 200 metres, compared to some 120 metres on today’s five MW turbines. PES presents an exclusive look at the findings.
The need for the UpWind project: exploring the design limits of upscaling
The key objective of the European wind industry‘s research and development strategy for the next ten years is to become the most competitive energy source by 2020 onshore and offshore by 2030, without accounting for external costs.
In October 2009, the European Commission published its Communication “Investing in the Development of Low Carbon Technologies (SET-Plan)”, stating that wind power would be “capable of contributing up to 20 per cent of EU electricity by 2020 and as much as 33 per cent by 2030” were the industry‘s research needs fully met. The wind industry agrees with the Commission‘s assessment.
Significant additional research efforts in wind energy are needed to bridge the gap between the 5 per cent of the European electricity demand which is currently covered by wind energy, and one-fifth of electricity demand in 2020, one-third in 2030 and half by 2050.
Meeting the European Commission‘s ambitions for wind energy would require meeting EWEA’s high scenario of 265 GW of wind power capacity, including 55 GW of offshore wind by 2020. The Commission‘s 2030 target of 33 per cent of EU power from wind energy can be reached by meeting EWEA’s 2030 installed capacity target of 400 GW wind, 150 GW of which would be offshore. Up to 2050 a total of 600 GW of wind energy capacity would be envisaged, 250 GW would be onshore and 350 GW offshore. Assuming a total electricity demand of 4,000 TWh in 2050 this amount of installed wind power could produce about 2,000 TWh and hence meet 50 per cent of the EU‘s electricity demand.