GE wind turbine
GE Haliade-X. Image obtained with thanks from GE.

The world’s largest offshore wind turbine — the GE Haliade-X has commenced operation in the Port of Maasvlakte-Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The Haliade-X is a wind turbine prototype from General Electric Renewable Energy, and it stands 260 meters (853 feet) tall.

The 12 MW (12,000 kW) turbine has a rotor spanning 220 meters (722 feet) and GE says it can power  16,000 European homes. If the homes consumed an average of 3 kW (which is not the case in Europe), it would be more like 4,000 homes. Energy efficiency makes all the difference here.

Several years ago, a 7 MW wind turbine made headlines for being the largest, and I even wrote an April fools joke back in 2013 about a 1,000-foot tall turbine with 600-foot rotors. Imagine that!

Why am I hearing about the ‘largest wind turbine’ so often?

Because bigger wind turbines are better, and as a result — turbine manufacturers keep making them bigger.

Greater wind speeds result in higher electricity output from wind turbines, and more consistent wind speeds result in more consistent and reliable power output. What this means is that taller wind turbines generate more electricity, and they do it more consistently because winds are stronger and more consistent at higher altitudes (especially if you’re talking about hundreds of feet).

Wider turbines also benefit because their blades have a larger surface area (in other words, bigger blades catch more wind!).