Bigger is better when it comes to wind turbines

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Source: GLOBE Foundation

A new study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology explores the question of whether larger wind turbines have made wind energy more or less environmentally friendly.

As larger turbines require more resources to construct and transport, there is reason to believe that they could have a high life cycle cost. The authors report that the average size of wind turbines has grown 10-fold in the last 30 years. They found that larger turbines have resulted in greener electricity.

With advances in research and development in wind energy, wind turbine manufacturers have become more experienced at increasing the turbines' efficiency.

Improved turbine design coupled with greater experience and knowledge has permitted more efficient construction of turbine blades capable of harnessing more wind without proportional increases in turbine mass.Such changes have improved the life cycle assessment of wind turbines, as fewer materials are needed for construction, and less fuel for transportation.

Some Canadian studies have shown what parts of the country are suitable for greater wind energy deployment.

A recent article reported that BC Hydro assessed 121 potential wind energy sites across the province and found that BC's onshore wind energy resources have the ability to generate 39,000 GWh of power a year which is about two-thirds of the province's current total domestic demand.

According to some organizations, the cost of developing clean wind energy has dropped by 20 percent in the past three years alone. Technology improvements have increased productivity by 27 percent.

On the social aspects of wind energy, a recent poll found that 76 per cent of British Columbians either strongly agree or agree that wind energy should be further developed as a source of clean electricity. Given current debates about the province's energy future, there may be merit in revisiting its view on wind energy.

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