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EXTREME: Shipping the world’s longest wind turbine blade

PortandTerminal.com, August 19, 2019

The world’s longest offshore wind turbine blade has arrived at the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s testing facilities in England. Everything about it is a marvel of engineering.

Everything about the LM Wind Powerblade is extreme.

For starters, its the largest wind-turbine blade in the world, measuring 351 (107 metres) feet in length. For perspective, just one blade measures 89 feet (27 metres) longer than the entire wingspan of the Airbus A380, the largest commercial passenger jet in the world.

The LM Wind Powerblade is a component of a larger item. It is designed to fit GM’s Haliade-X 12 MW Wind Turbine which is in of itself an extreme feat of engineering. Once completed, it will be the largest offshore wind turbine in the world.

And then there’s weather to consider. With blades and wind turbines as large as this one, extreme weather comes into play as well.

The bigger a wind turbine gets, the more frequently it will be struck by lightning. In one example, a study showed that during its first full year of operation, 85% of the downtime experienced by one southwestern commercial wind farm in the US was lightning-related.

When you are dealing with the largest wind-turbine in the world, you can expect it to be struck more than any other one out there.

And finally, there’s the extreme logistics of moving one of these monster wind turbine blades from A to B.

Moving a blade this size

In this example, a blade a fraction of the size (189 feet) of the LM Powerblade is being moved by a very skilled truck driver

Transporting a blade of this size is no mean feat. There are many intermediate steps in handling the blade from its base in the factory, outside to the port and finally onto the vessel. According to Kirsten Bank Christensen, Senior Manager Transport Products & Services for LM Wind Power, the whole process takes meticulous planning and coordination. 

“Transportation of mega blades is a complex and ever-evolving challenge,” Kirsten said. “I have worked in the wind industry since 1996. The development shows it is not just ‘business as usual’, and the innovation and development we’re seeing is continuously expanding. Boundaries continuously need to be stretched and challenged. This is one of the aspects I find truly amazing. We are front-runners in the industry, we have what it takes to succeed and I’m proud to be a part of it.” 

The Haliade-X Wind Turbine

Designed and manufactured by LM Wind Power, the 107-meter-long blades on the Haliade-X Wind Turbine will be the longest offshore blades to date and will be longer than the size of a soccer field.

One Haliade-X 12 MW turbine will generate up to 67 GWh annually, enough clean power for up to 16,000 households per turbine, and up to 1 million European households in a 750 MW windfarm configuration. 

GE Renewable Energy plans to install the Haliade-X prototype in Rotterdam this summer and to ship the first commercial units in 2021. Earlier this year, Swedish utility Vattenfall announced that it also plans to deploy the Haliade-X in future projects in Europe as well.

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