One way to reduce the cost of wind energy is to improve the design and manufacturing processes for wind turbine blades to increase their strength and reliability. Because the mechanical properties of the blades determine the loads transmitted to the other components in the turbine, improved blade designs can also increase overall turbine performance. New blade shape designs produced through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Wind Program have increased wind turbine performance by as much as 30% over designs used just 10 years ago.

As wind turbine blades increase in length, the blade weight increases faster than the energy it can produce. To produce blades for larger machines without increasing costs, industry researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Sandia National Laboratories are investigating new materials like carbon or glass-carbon hybrids, new manufacturing processes that improve fiber alignment and compaction, and new...

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