A new study affirms 0.3 m (12 inches) of ice buildup along the tip of a wind turbine’s 50-meters-long blades during a typical ice storm dramatically reduces the blades’ capacity to rotate – even in very windy conditions. The averaged power production loss induced by this ice accretion reaches up to 80%.
Image Source: TechXplore.com
The evidence that wind energy cannot reliably meet even the most fundamental need to keep us warm during harsh winter weather continues to accumulate. Nearly 4.5 million Texas residents experienced these grid failure consequences last month.
When a wind turbine blade spins in cold, wet weather, the ice buildup can span the length of the 50-meters-long blade, severely disturbing the aerodynamic balance of the entire 150-meters-tall machine.
Drone images from a new study (Gao et al., 2021) reveal the tips of blades can accumulate 300 mm of ice during an ice storm. Consequently, the blades may slow dramatically or even shut down altogether. The averaged power loss in an icing-induced slowing of blade rotation is 80% when compared to non-iced turbine blades.
In other words, when the weather is cold, wind turbines cannot be relied upon to supply us with the energy we need.