Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Here be sea monsters


LAST October my TCW colleague Margaret Ashworth wrote how offshore wind turbines were getting bigger and bigger, with plans for a ‘monster’ on the horizon. 

Well, it’s here. The General Electric Haliade X  is the world’s largest and most powerful turbine at 853ft high – just 150ft shorter than the Eiffel Tower. 

A prototype has been erected on the quayside in the port of Rotterdam and it truly is a behemoth. Just look at the size of the thing on this YouTube time-lapse video. 

And that’s only a test version, with a height of 803ft. The full-blown (or not full-blown, depending if there’s any wind) Haliade X will have a blade tip height of the aforesaid 853ft (260m), with each of its three blades measuring 351ft (107m). That’s longer than a football pitch.  

Soon, 84 of the 825-ton structures will be going up in the waters around the island of Martha’s Vineyard near Cape Cod in Massachusetts, as the first major offshore wind farm in the US is developed there. Then they’ll be appearing in even greater numbers on the Dogger Bank in the North Sea, between 77 and 180 miles off the east coast of Yorkshire.   

The Martha’s Vineyard project was shelved last December during the final days of the Trump presidency, amid objections from fishing communities. But in February, after Joe Biden took office with his ‘green’ agenda, the 2.8billion-dollar scheme was suddenly and controversially approved.

Presumably they’ll be hoping the wind keeps blowing so the lights don’t all go down in Massachusetts. 

On the Dogger Bank, where the world’s biggest wind farm is being established,  a total of 277 Haliades will grace – or disgrace – the skyline of the farm’s three development areas. 

I won’t go into the wind turbine controversy here. Suffice to say it’s been shown that they aren’t really green or clean, that they kill birds wholesale, are not cost-effective, have a limited lifespan and are useless when the wind doesn’t blow, as outlined in articles by TCW writers Clark Cross, and Viv Forbes, among others. There’s also a lot of money being made manufacturing and installing them. I just thought I’d let you know that, despite the arguments against them, the march of the monsters continues apace.  

And as Boris Johnson leads us towards the promised land – the ‘Saudi Arabia of wind power’ – it looks as if any contrary voices will increasingly be drowned out by the whoosh of those gigantic blades.  

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Henry Getley
Henry Getley
Henry Getley is a freelance journalist.

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