Monday, May 05, 2008

Breaking Wind in Ireland

Ireland Needs
Big Wind Investment

The total amount of electricity that Ireland is capable of generating is approximately 6,000 megawatts or in other words 6 GigaWatts. At a fairly recent estimate, roughly 800 MW of the generated power came from wind turbines.

If Ireland has one thing in plenty it is the wind. We also have plenty of hills and mountains which are good for nothing much else except wind farms.

I have recently visited a couple of Kerry wind farms and I have been most impressed by the size, sleekness and clean simplicity of this way of generating power. I am excited by the huge potential Ireland has for wind energy, and by the clean, quiet, safe, and aesthetically beautiful nature of this technology.

The View from Your Back Yard

Kilgarvan Wind Farm Co Kerry

MoneyPoint Coal Fired Generator County Clare

Wind turbines are sometimes knocked as being and ugly and inefficient way of generating power. Fact is that wind turbines are 97 to 98% efficient at extracting energy from the wind. Compare this with coal fired plants like MoneyPoint which are only 30 to 40% efficient. Which would you prefer to have in your back yard??

I have become intrigued by the design and technology of wind turbines and have started to read up on the various makers and designs. I started to search for the BIGGEST (toys for boys and all that) wind generator currently in production and this search lead me to a German company. One particular design that caught my attention very early on, initially because of its sheer size and large output, is a German design by a company called Enercon.


Currently the world’s largest operational wind turbine in general production is the Enercon E-126, as far as I know. The Enercon E-126 turbine has a truly massive rotor diameter of 126 meters that is 413 feet. Each of the three blades is 63 meters or 206 feet from centre of the hub to tip of the blade!! Not the 126 meters as incorrectly listed on several sites and postings on the WEB. The hub centre is at a height of 135 Meters – and the total height, as measured to the tip of the blade while at the top of it’s rotation, is 198.5 meters or 651 feet!

This machine is an upgraded and more sophisticated version of an earlier wind turbine called the E-112, which was formerly the world’s largest wind turbine with a rated 6 megawatts output. Some of the photographs shown are of the E112.

The E126 was initially rated at 6 megawatts, but will mostly likely produce 35% more power than it’s predecessor the E112, that is up to 8+ megawatts, or another way of rating it would be to say it can deliver 20+ million kilowatt hours per year. Sufficient to power about 5,000 households of four people based on a European standard.

I was interested to read that Enercon say that they will be testing several types of storage systems in combination with these multi-megawatt wind turbines. If you have been reading my blog you will know that I believe that Redox battery, Sulphur battery, or some other form of storage is essential to balance the intermittent nature of wind turbine output.

Enercon is based in Aurich which is in Northern Germany. It is the third largest wind turbine manufacturer in the world and the market leader in Germany. I have been in touch with the company by phone and have received permission to reproduce the amazing photographs featured in these posts.

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