New Record: World’s Largest Wind Turbine (7+ Megawatts)

The world’s largest wind turbine is now the Enercon E-126. This turbine has a rotor diameter of 126 meters (413 feet). The E-126 is a more sophisticated version of the E-112, formerly the world’s largest wind turbine and rated at 6 megawatts. This new turbine is officially rated at 6 megawatts too, but will most likely produce 7+ megawatts (or 20 million kilowatt hours per year). That’s enough to power about 5,000 households of four in Europe. A quick US calculation would be 938 kwh per home per month, 12 months, that’s 11,256 kwh per year per house. That’s 1776 American homes on one wind turbine.

The turbine being installed in Emden, Germany by Enercon. They will be testing several types of storage systems in combination with the multi-megawatt wind turbines.

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These turbines are equipped with a number of new features: an optimized blade design with a spoiler extending down to the hub, and a pre-cast concrete base. Due to the elevated hub height and the new blade profile, the performance of the E-126 is expected to by far surpass that of the E-112.

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WiredForStereo of The Way explains the operation of these new turbines:

[The E-126]… has no gearbox attaching the turbine blades to the generator, in fact, the generator is housed just at the widest part of the nose cone, it takes up the entire width of the nacelle to generate power more efficiently, and provide longer service life with less wear.

Also like small turbines, these have inverters instead of synchronous generators, that is to say, a separate controller that converts the wild AC generated into something the grid can use. This means the rotor can run at more optimum and varied speeds.

Again like small turbines, this one does not shut right off at a predetermined speed due to gusts or just very high wind speeds. It simply throttles down by turning the blades slightly away from the wind so as to continue to generate power though at a lower production rate. Then the instant the wind is more favorable, it starts back up again. Many smaller wind turbines do something similar except have no blade pitch control, they use a technique called something like “side furling” where the whole machine, excepting the tail, turns “sideways” to catch less wind but continue operating.

Money, why else? Big things are cheaper per unit production. If you have 3 2 MW generators, you have to have three (at least) cranes to put them up, build three foundations, have to maintain three machines, and have three times the parts to fail. If you have one, it is larger and more expensive in itself to move, but not as expensive as having to move three smaller ones.

I don’t understand how people can be so concerned about birds becoming mush with modern wind turbines, especially ones this big. It only turns at 12 rpms. That means it takes five seconds to complete one revolution. That is slow but this is much bigger and easy to see compared to the whirring blades of old. The Altamont Pass turbines gave wind turbines such a bad name because they were built in the middle of the natural habitat of rare birds, the turbines were the small fast spinning type, and they were built using lattice towers, the kind birds love to nest in. These are slowly being replaced and all of the new ones are of the slower rotating kind. In the end, it comes down to this. Stationary buildings and moving cars kill literally millions of times more birds than wind turbines. And things like the Exxon Valdez spill kill millions of everything. So let’s go with the best option.

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A graph of the World’s Largest Wind Turbines.

469 thoughts on “New Record: World’s Largest Wind Turbine (7+ Megawatts)”

  1. Re blade length/diameter. How about this link from Enercon in Germany: http://tinyurl.com/696oon
    They state that hub height is 135m and overall height is 198m. It seems clear that the blade length is therefore 198-135 = 63m and the diameter therefore 126m.

  2. Sorry, that was meant to say:

    Several different web-pages report the Diameter being 126m and others say the Blade Length is 126m

  3. Quote:
    “The world’s largest wind turbine is now the Enercon E-126. This turbine has a rotor blade length of 126 meters (413 feet). ”

    The article says Rotor Blade LENGTH. Not Diameter.
    I’ve looked at Enercon’s websites, and I see no reference to the E-126’s diameter size. Or any reference to it at ALL, for that matter.

    Several different web-pages report the Diameter being 126m and others say the Diameter is 126m

    Yes, you can see that in the past Enercon have named their turbines after the diameter size, but to assume that continues without confirming it is a bit unscientific, wouldn’t you say?

    Can anyone provide a link confirming this either way?

  4. I love it , its beautiful . In Australia you can travel tens of thousands of kilometers and never see one . In Thailand on , there are some which attract tourists . Fools say its inefficient , but thats short sighted . If Roman ruins can last thousands of years , I bet this megalith will be there making free power for a long time . Small speakers making bird warning calls can scare away birds .

  5. Apparently these are being installed in the North Sea as well. No shortage of wind there.

    Some people object to these turbines. Here in Australia lots of people think they are ugly. To me they are magnificent; making energy for the cost of the turbine and its maintenance is one of the most sensible things humans have done so far.

  6. American proud

    dip, yes the U.S. is over dependant on energy and we are very inefficient in its uses. But, we also enjoy the spoils of war….kicked yours twice. ha ha

  7. No one will say what it cost to build but if the figure is known its ten million or more. How long does it need to work to pay for itself.

  8. Willie C Wuddle

    I’d love to see more windmills here in Eastern Canada. Give me a can of beans and a case of beer and I could be self sufficient for at least two days. I can also think of a few local politicians who produce enough hot air to run a large windmill.

  9. For Math Person

    On The website of http://www.enercon.de/ the Model E-82 has a Rotor diameter: 82 m and the E-33 has a
    Rotor diameter: 33.4 m. That tells me that the E-126 has a Rotor diameter: 126 m (413 Ft). That will make all the calculations you have done to be incorrect. the tip of the rotor travels at 177.
    P.S. even if the blade was 413 feet the rotor would be much more than 826 feet. You would have to include the diameter of the hub. Also 3 blades completing a rotation every 5 seconds that means a blade passes you 5/3= 1.6 seconds.

    I am sure that the sub level noises will cause the birds to be aware of it more than us. The movement also will allow birds to see it better.

  10. This is an answer to DIP.
    UNfortunately electricity is cheap. Almost every house you go to half the house is lit even when there is only one person home! or none. Lived here 20 years and still I hurt people’s feelings when I asked them not to leave lights on in my studio after they go to another room!

  11. Richard Leschen

    For Heaven sake,

    To all those Troglodites in La-La Land who come up with lame excuses for knocking Wind- Power……….We who care about our Planet Earth are sick of acursed Nuclear Power Plants which only causes dangerous long- lived atomic waste which poisons our planet’s soil, air and water. The same goes for Coal Fired Power Stations which belt out stinking fumes which clog the air we breathe.
    I say, ” Let the Wind Farms flourish, Wave generating power stations and Solar mirror electricity power generation stations as well.

    Ruptured oil tankers spilling their stinking oil cargo kill far more bird, penguins and fish than any number of windmills anyway. ” Have you so soon forgotten the terrible maritime Oil Spill from the ‘ Lesson of the Curse of the Tori Canion.’ Don’t forget that nature’s Perigrine Falcons and Eagles also kill birds.

    Richard Leschen

  12. It’s too big. If we enough of this built it would slow the rotation of the Earth and fall into the Sun. Maybe that’s the solution, too.

  13. Output of a windmill is proportional to the cube of the wind speed, eighth power at half speed, one twenty-seventh at one third speed, one sixty-fourth at quarter speed. Using Met Office figures plus 20%. i calculated that windmills spread all over the UK were producing less than 5% for fortnight in October, December and February. Which is why 27 nations around the world are building or planning nuclear power.

  14. “Wait, do i get this right, We in germany can power 5000homes with this one turbine, but you yanks are only able to power less than half of this? i.e. “1776 American homes”. Wonder what you guys do wrong?”

    Well according to Mass.gov, “A megawatt is enough energy to power about 1,200 New England homes.” What so let me get this right at 7 Megawatts, thats 8,400 homes. So us YANKS aren’t really doing anything WRONG, are we dip?

    http://www.mass.gov/dep/public/publications/0707land.htm

  15. As pointed out by cyric, the wind blade length is actually a little less than 126/2 meters taking account the diameter of the hub. The article simply dispersed the wrong information. Check Enercon’s website.

    Math person’s calculation is correct, but the blade radius is wrong from the beginning. Consequently, the tip velocity is also wrong.

    The wind speed versus power graph is not linear but asymptotic, hence, there is a point of diminishing return. No need to go so fast. Eventually, the mechanical properties of the blades will determine how fast the blades can/should turn. The faster the blade turns, the higher the mechanical loadings are. The higher the loadings, the shorter the lifespan of the blades. Say, fatigue!

  16. I would like to publish 1 photo of the The world’s largest wind turbine is now the Enercon E-126, you have in this website, for a publication I am developing about R.Energies in Portugal.
    What would be the price for it?

  17. vlad –

    The fixed cost is a sunk cost once the thing is up and running (just like a building) and connected to a storage system and distribution network, so that’s zero. The actual cost of the electricity prodcued is the variable cost per unit of energy produced, such as maintenance and replacement of worn parts. It’s probably way cheaper than coal. The actual energy source is caused by the interaction of the sun and the earth, so that’s free (a sunk cost worst) to the producer under clear solar/wind rights.

    Your accountant and local politicians can tell you the additional unit costs of inefficient accounting, taxation and regulatory schemes and lobbying for unhelpful squirrelly laws from dirtier producers of electricity.

  18. Blade speed and bird kills – not what you think.

    Try 355.7 mph at the tips. The circumference of a circle is 2*r*pi* = d*pi. If one blade is 413 feet, the diameter is 826 feet * pi = 2,594 feet / 5 seconds for one rotation around the circumference = 519 feet per second * 60 seconds * 60 minutes = 1,867,421 feet per hour / 5,250 feet = 355.7 miles per hour. Some birds fly horizontally as slow as a person walks. Try to walk through huge blades coming at you 355.7 miles per hour every 0.6 seconds (three blades completing a revolution every five seconds) randomly a few times and see if you escape getting hit.

    As an economist, the question is not whether birds get hit and killed by wind power. Some will be. The question is whether fewer birds get hit and killed by wind power (the larger the turbines, the fewer of them there are, so fewer birds get killed by mega-wind power anyway) than by the oil and gasoline trucks that the wind turbines replace. The answer is yes. It turns out that the number two killer of birds (after house windows) is motor vehicles, with big trucks taking more than their share. Birds win overall with wind power (not to mention the cleaner air gives them back their normal life span and function).

  19. Another US Scumbag

    Despite being the world leader in charitable giving and foreign aid, I see it’s still chic to bash the US. We have our drawbacks, but so does every other nation on earth. Here in South Dakota, 20% of our electricity comes from wind, and more turbines are being errected daily.

  20. re Waldo Hitcher

    A 2007 US government study found wind power was half the price of coal per Kwh,.

    Since then, the price of coal has more than doubled at some ports.

    US anthracite (high grade coal) production peaked in the 1920s.

    Oil, coal and nuclear power are scams. Everything from their exploration to to the waste products they produce is subsidized by income tax and has been for decades.

  21. Ultra expensive low return wind turbine built instead of standard generating power methods, causes a significant net reduction in World wealth.

    That means people at the bottom drop out of the wealth redistribution league, while rich countries indulge themselves with these ludicras “eco totem poles”.

    This eco madness has gone too far. Either bring up the Eco technology beyond the efficiency of new generation or ditch it. At present Wind is five times as resource intensive to achieve the same in City (where the demand is) balanced secure 24/7 generation and wave/solar/tidal over 10 times as resource intensive.

    Every one of these built starves poorer people of the resources it wastes. Six billion people would have to be reduced dramatically (ie die) if these eco technologies become widespread. The Earth can’t generate energy therefore sufficient wealth with stone age technology. Energy is the multiplier of wealth and every increase in real terms cost reduces potential wealth serverely and even more so in poor communities. Meanwhile the Germans are feeling very self satisfied at building expensive statues to their own ecological excellence with money that could have built efficient power stations in SS Africa.

    The answer is to starve these “wind engineers” of funds until they can deliver the 5 times improvement in generation,storage and distribution efficiency necessary. Don’t pay for steam engines, make them deliver what we need.

    The physics of the situation is clear even without the blindingly obvious solutions. The only thing that will return this wind or wave efficiency is scale, a technical solution that multiplies scale without multiplying mass. A windmill is not it , nor ever will be. As the height/span increases the rotating inertial mass goes through the roof.

    Stop subsidising junk technology, start starving it .

    Starve poor technology, not poor people.

    1. Finally, a voice of sanity. I especially resent the bloke who denigrates those who appreciate a view without an eco-totem pole casting flickering shadows and reflections, as well as low-frequency rumbles that surely all together must interfere significantly with someone’s sensory acuity, their sanity, and their sleep (not to mention the lost revenue when tourists stop coming to get away from the industrial atmosphere of the cities, only to find that Northumberland has been thoroughly studded with these eco-industrial beasts!) This madness must stop, and I believe you have really well put the case to the madmen who pursue their eco-bucks to the denigration of the planet. Two weeks ago, President Obama issued an Executive Order redefining what is acceptable as an alternative energy source for use by the US Federal government. Now Small Modular Reactors are an option and are considered both a viable alternative, and a renewable source. With co-generation, SMR’s efficiency goes through the roof. Requiring no gigantic “smart grid” sucking the efficiency like a vampire–things that are inherent to these nasty wind machines–Nuclear SMRs are going to allow us to meet all our CO2 reduction goals, without the canard of “nominal power output” being accepted by the lost eco-sheep, and without the 100% conventional, CO2-generating backup generators–which must be kept on idle at all times should the wind die down, or a cloud pass over a solar cell–and which all of these wind turbines require. Building them, in the last analysis, creates more greenhouse gasses than they replace.

  22. I might be misunderstanding something, but according to Enercon own site, the tower hub height is 135 m tall and it has a rotor diameter of 127 m (so the blade length is half that, ~63.5 m). The total height is then about 135+63.5 = 198.5 m. This is still not as tall as the Fuhrländer Wind Turbine in Laasow Germany, which is ~205 m (160 m tower with 90 m diameter rotor). However this new turbine can generate much more power ~6-7 MW vs. 2.5 MW.

  23. dip,
    You are right, we Americans live in houses that are much too big and inefficient, but what difference can I make, I’m just a blogger. I live in a small house and I am working it make it more efficient. I spread the word, but few listen, it is called “The American Dream.”

    Saul Wall,
    Actually, there is very little power available at the hub. Smaller turbines don’t have the blade extending all the way to the hub, it just doesn’t provide down there.

    Tony,
    The efficiency is in the lift created by the air foil of the blade moving across the wind. If there were blades on the tips of the blades, you would begin to harvest power using drag which is less efficient. Additionally, a bunch of tiny blades moving at 180 mph would be VERY loud.

  24. This company is the largest producer of wind turbines in Germany. They know what they are doing. I produce small wind generators and understand the technology. I would be you could never hear this machine. It likely turns at only 10-15 rpm. This machine is designed primarily for off-shore wind farms and breakeven is most likely 7-8 years like other designs.

  25. To Tony:

    It is a creative idea but I suspect that the energy lost due to drag on the main turbine caused by the smaller ones would be more than the smaller turbines would produce.

  26. We would need only seven of those to provide enough electricity for my entire town. And that’s not counting solar power, which is already very common in Limburg.

  27. This does look awesome, and I’m obviously no expert, whilst reading through the comments about how fast the blades at the tips an idea struck me, would it be possible to put smaller turbines mounted on the tips of the blades perpendicular the the large blades, so that as the large blades spin the smaller ones could also produce power? It may well be a completely stupid idea, but one I thought worth sharing. I will now return to my humdrum existence.

  28. Wait, do i get this right, We in germany can power 5000homes with this one turbine, but you yanks are only able to power less than half of this? i.e. “1776 American homes”. Wonder what you guys do wrong?

  29. Good job this turbine is not located in the UK. I can already hear the screams of the Rotary group complaining about noise pollution, aesthetic impact on our rural locations and the general desire to use renewable energy but not actually do anything constructive to help that mission succeed.

  30. That is true, according to my quick calculations, the tips would run about 177 mph, but that is only the tips, the great majority of the swept area poses very little danger to birds. If you come in 26 meters, the blade speed drops to 59 mph. Additionally, the sheer size of the blades and the turbine over all acts as a deterrent. Unlike skyscrapers and buildings with large glass windows, wind turbines are solidly colored so birds cannot fly through what they think is empty airspace but actually happens to be a window.

  31. I agree about the bird thing being overblown. But 12 revs a minute is not slow. At the end of the blades, they’ll be traveling at nearly 180mph.

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