GE Performs Surgery to Make Its Wind Blades Bigger

General Electric are making plans to get even more renewable energy out of some of its existing turbines by lengthening their blades.

Shorter wind turbine blades need stronger winds to turn them, so GE worked out a solution to make the existing blades longer, boosting green energy production by over 20%.

Because the blades are made from composite materials to reduce weight, the GE team found a way to cut a standard 37-metre blade roughly in half and insert a 7-metre blade extension. The research project has fetched 16 patent applications so far.

The extended blades have gone tough tests exceeding requirements set by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), including static strength tests and fatigue tests totalling more than 6 million cycles.

GE has invested more than $2 billion in renewable energy R&D. The research includes projects like developing blades covered with “tensioned fabric” that could be assembled on location. The new design would cut moving costs and make it easier to transport large blades, which can already stretch half way across the football field.