Ginormous offshore subsidy-free wind turbines

Vestas V164 offshore wind turbines

The biggest offshore wind turbines now produce 8 MW, enough for roughly 48,000 US homes, and are over 700 feet tall. They will soon be dwarfed by much bigger turbines capable of producing 15 MW, maybe much more. The economies of scale in such behemoths means big wind will be completely competitive with any power source. They will no longer need subsidies or tax credits.

Just one giant 15-megawatt turbine would produce power more cheaply than five 3-megawatt machines, or even two with an 8-megawatt capacity. That’s because bigger turbines can produce the same power from a fewer number of foundations and less complex grid connections. The wind farm’s layout can be made more efficient, and fewer machines means less maintenance.

The scale of the turbines may not even stop at 15 megawatts. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a unit of Lockheed Martin Corp. is working on components for a possible 50-megawatt turbine that would have blades 100 meters long — each stretching further than two soccer fields.