GE is fleshing out designs for a modular blade made up of panels of strong and flexible material stretched over a metal “fishbone-shaped” frame that could undercut the fabrication, assembly and transportation costs attached to conventional fibreglass blades.

Early calculations suggest that the new concept, which would have a 20-year design life, could slash blade costs by 25-40%, making a significant cut to wind power’s overall levelised cost of energy (LCoE).

“This blade is a significant part of the story [of LCoE reduction] because the rotor is a significant part of the cost of the turbine, but, of course, it won’t get us all the way there [to GE’s target of a 50% reduction in rotor cost],” says project leader and GE principal engineer Wendy Lin.