In a previous article we shared the news that General Electric (GE) had developed the 12-MW Haliade-X wind turbine, the world’s biggest wind turbine to date. That record is about to be broken by China’s MingYang Smart Energy, with the unveiling this week of a new offshore wind turbine that will be the tallest in the world.
An Astonishing Feat of Engineering
The new MingYang MySE 16.0-242 is an enormous 260 metres tall. It has larger blades yielding a larger swept area and therefore an increased electricity generation from the rotation of its huge blades. At 16 MW, it can generate 80,000 MWh of electricity every year, enough to power more than 20,000 households. 
The Chinese company is aiming to install a prototype in 2023 before starting commercial production the year after.
Why Are Wind Turbines Getting Larger?
MingYang is one of several companies attempting to scale-up the size of offshore wind turbines. But why? The simple answer is that the bigger turbines get, the more efficient they are. This fact has driven an increase in size from around 30 metres in the 1990s to almost 300m today. 
These mammoth wind turbines could be very important in the future of the industry because they can access the stronger steadier winds that occur at higher altitudes, and have a higher inherent capacity to use wind energy because of their size. Demonstrating the increasing benefits of scale, the MySE 16.0-242 will produce 45% more energy than MingYang’s previous largest turbine model, the MySE 11.0-203, while only needing a 19% increase in rotor diameter. 
China Growing Offshore Wind Capacity
China remains heavily reliant on fossil fuels, but it is also becoming a powerhouse in offshore wind. According to market data, China installed more than half the planet’s offshore wind capacity last year, overtaking the UK as the world’s largest operator of installed offshore wind capacity. [3, 4] The rapid build of China’s renewable energy capacity comes as the country targets reaching peak carbon dioxide emissions in 2030 and then carbon-neutrality in 2060.
With wind turbines being one of the most cost-effective and technologically sophisticated forms of renewable energy, we will only see more of them. Especially now as the developed world comes to grips with climate change.
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Thumbnail image accreditation: Chris Barballis (January 2018) from Unsplash.com. Last accessed on 25 Aug 2021. Available at: https://unsplash.com/photos/xxuvhvGORmI