It is difficult to dispute that the operational life of a current generation wind turbine has a predicted span of about 20 years, as compared to the 60 years claimed for a nuclear station turbine by Colin R McInnes (Letters, May 28).
This is largely attributable to perfectly well understood engineering practicalities. A nuclear station turbine functions in the benign environment of a generation hall and can be easily maintained on a regular basis. On the other hand, a wind turbine is exposed to harsh variable buffetings which limit turbine blade life due to fatigue and generator bearing life due to the stresses in the mechanical transmission linkages. Furthermore, maintenance, particularly for off-shore versions, is problematic.
However, if mankind can somehow avert the very real danger to life on the planet of climate change, by ditching its addiction to fossil fuels and converting to the wholesale use of these less than optimum devices, second and third generation renewable power systems will soon appear which are very long lasting and largely maintenance free.
To give just one example, a third generation vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) currently being developed in Japan will have multiple aerofoils and rotate on a frictionless electromagnetically levitated bearing.
Such machines will operate satisfactorily, with little maintenance, for well over 60 years.
In addition, research findings from the US suggest that windfarms populated by these VAWTs will generate 10 times more power per unit area of land than current varieties.
Alan J Sangster,
37 Craigmount Terrace,
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