General Electric developing new wind turbines blades made out of fabricDecember 8, 2012
General Electric seeks to address issues concerning wind energy costs
General Electric has been seeing a great deal of activity in the wind energy sector lately. Wind energy has become a strong focus for the technology company, especially as emerging markets around the world begin to take interest in alternative energy. Though alternative energy is becoming more viable for these countries, many are still wary of breaking away from fossil-fuels because of the high cost associated with sustainable forms of power. General Electric has been working on a solution that could help solve the problem of cost for wind energy systems.
Wind turbines account for significant capital investments
General Electric has teamed with the Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University and the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory to design a new kind of wind turbine. Wind turbines are the crux of a wind energy system. Turbines harness the power of the wind and translate this into electricity, which is typically fed into an energy grid. An individual wind turbine is not necessarily excessively expensive, but a large number of these systems are required in order to generate a viable amount of electricity. This accounts for a major capital investment from those interested in adopting wind energy.
Fabric blades could reduce cost of wind turbines
With this in mind, General Electric has begun developing a new kind of wind turbine whose blades are made out of fabric. This is meant to significantly reduce the cost of a wind turbine while not negatively impacting its ability to generate electrical power. General Electric estimates that the new blade design could help reduce the cost of wind turbines by as much as 40%. Affordable wind turbines could help boost the adoption of wind energy systems, especially in emerging markets around the world.
Affordable turbines may make wind energy more attractive
The fabric wind blades are currently being tested for their viability in actual wind energy systems. General Electric has made use of the fabric being used to build the turbine blades before in numerous construction projects. The fabric has primarily been used for aesthetic purposes, however, so the performance capabilities of the material remain largely untested.