World's Most Powerful Offshore Turbine Catches Wind Gusts Two Soccer Fields Wide

Illustration for article titled World's Most Powerful Offshore Turbine Catches Wind Gusts Two Soccer Fields Wide

While it may not be the overall most-powerful wind turbine ever built, the multi-megawatt monstrosity that has just been installed off the coast of Belgium is certainly the most powerful to ever be caressed by a sea breeze.

The turbine, with a rated capacity of 6.15 megawatts, is part of a 48-turbine expansion at the $1.28 billion Thornton Bank wind farm about 30 kilometers off the coast of Belgium. In all, the park is expected to generate 325 MW a year once all turbines are operational.


Each turbine is over two stories tall with 63-meter-long blades and a sweep diameter of 126 meters—roughly the surface area of two MLS pitches. They are built by REpower Systems. "The installation of the first 6 MW turbine in a commercial offshore wind farm is an important milestone for the entire offshore wind industry. It marks another step along the road towards larger offshore wind power plants with ever more powerful machines," Prof. Martin Skiba, Head of Offshore Wind Power at RWE Innogy, said in a statement.

RWE expects to have 30 turbines installed by September of this year with the remaining 18 put in by the end of next year. When operational, the Thornton Bank wind park will be the largest offshore wind farm in Europe. It can generate enough power to light 600,000 homes. [RWE via Inhabitat]

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Arggh! there goes a...snake a snake!

I know no one here is going to have an exact answer but I wonder what the payback period on these things while also considering the continuous maintenance costs that I'm sure the harsh marine environment demands.