The World's Most Powerful Wind Turbine Has Blades Bigger than a 747 Wing

When complete, the Vestas V164 is slated to be the world's largest and most powerful wind turbine on the planet. Standing 443 feet tall, with a diameter spanning 538 feet, the turbine to generates eight megawatts of power. This is no child's pinwheel. In fact, it cranks out enough juice to power a whole neighborhood.

Intended for use offshore, optimized for the North Sea, IEEE Spectrum says that each 262-foot blade is longer than the wingspan of a Boeing 747. Most other large turbines currently have a max power rating of five megawatts; a few others in development will deliver six megawatts. Save for the the onshore Enercon turbine, which can muster up 7.58 megawatts, none come close to the V164. Originally, the turbine had been slated to only deliver seven megawatts of power, but the R&D team found a way to up the output without changing the dimensions of the structure.

But first, this behemoth of a power plant must first make its way through testing. Beginning early next year, Vestas will begin testing the drivetrain in Denmark, and the blades in the Isle of Wight. The company plans to have their first turbine operational by 2014. But with other companies currently developing 10-megawatt turbines, Vestas doesn't have time to sit back and finish the V164 at their leisure.

Then again, it may not matter. You see, being able to scale the size of the turbines up has already been factored into the overall design of the V164. It's already gained a megawatt in power, and it could gain even more capacity over time.

But the green energy arms race aside, this advancement means alternative energy sources are getting bigger, badder, more effective, and a little more likely to make a difference in the real world. [IEEE Spectrum]