How Tall Are Wind Turbines?

The average onshore wind turbine is around 90 meters (295 ft), and the average offshore wind turbine is about 180 meters (590 ft).

By looking at the data, you might say “taller is better” – you’d be correct, but it’s more complicated than that.

This article discusses wind turbine height and how it affects their energy production.

Why are wind turbines so tall?

The relation between the wind turbine's height and efficiency
The relation between the wind turbine’s height and efficiency by Fatiha Youcef Ettoumi

Wind turbines work using the air’s kinetic energy to turn a rotor around a shaft. This shaft is connected to a generator, which produces electricity.

What does this have to do with how tall they are?

Well, there is a direct relationship between height and wind speed.

At higher altitudes, the air is thinner, and there’s less friction between particles than at lower altitudes.

This means that wind moves faster than it would at ground level, where it also has to push through objects like trees and buildings. As wind is stronger at higher altitudes, it rotates the blades more easily, creating more energy.

Another advantage of large turbines is that the taller the turbine, the longer its rotor blades can be, which allows it to capture more energy from the wind.

If taller is better, why don’t 80-story turbines exist?

Taller turbines have better access to wind and are therefore more efficient, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any limits. These limitations include:

1. Blades Durability

A wind turbine with a broken blade
A wind turbine with a broken blade by Enid News

Ideally, you want to make the blades as thin as possible to reduce weight and drag.

However, if you make the blades too thin, strong winds can break them. Conversely, if you make them too thick, it will be heavy and less efficient.

As a result, there is a correlation between blade thickness and height – the taller the turbine, the thicker the blades need to be to withstand the higher wind velocity.

2. Gearbox and transmission systems

Higher loads can reduce the turbine's lifespan
Higher loads can reduce the turbine’s lifespan by Wind Power Engineering

Since wind at higher altitudes is stronger, tall turbines can generate more power.

However, this also means that the gearbox and transmission system have to work harder, increasing wear and tear and reducing the turbine’s lifespan.

3. Tower Support

Strain Energy on wind turbine tower
Strain Energy on wind turbine tower (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

A large turbine can weigh up to several hundred tons, and the taller the turbine, the more weight it has.

This puts a lot of strain on the tower, which needs to support the turbine.

4. Transportation

Transportation of wind turbines
Transportation of wind turbines by Mammoet 

Imagine trying to transport a 165 feet (50 meters) blade on the highway!

Even if the blade could fit on the truck, it wouldn’t be easy to navigate around tight corners and over bridges.

Many things can go wrong, and each mistake could mean a broken blade, which is both expensive and dangerous.

5. Noise And Visual Pollution

how loud are wind turbines
Illustration of how loud wind turbines are by Let’s Go Solar

While taller turbines generate more electricity, they create more noise and visual pollution.

Noise can be a problem for people who live near turbines, as they may experience headaches, insomnia, and other issues due to constant exposure.

Visual pollution is also an issue because larger turbines can ruin the view of the landscape or affect bird populations.

Common wind turbine heights

To give you a better idea of how tall wind turbines are, we put together a list of the five most common wind turbines and how tall they are.

Model Height Power Rating
V164-9.5 164 m 9.5 MW
D10000-185 126 m 10 MW
Haliade-X 260 m 16 MW
E-126 7.580 135 m 7.5 MW
SG 11.0-193 DD Flex 230 m 11 MW

Was this article helpful?

Leave a Comment