Wind energy expert Jose Zayas earlier this year gave a detailed presentation about the evolution, physics, siting considerations, commercial risks and current engineering challenges facing medium- and large-scale wind turbine efforts in the United States. This presentation occurred at the Materials Challenges for Alternative and Renewable Energy.
Zayas, project manager for Sandia National Lab’s Wind and Water Technologies, provides valuable information about the tradeoffs being made among size, speed and materials costs and discusses some of the innovations arising from collaborations between national labs and private industry that are bring about new carbon, fiberglass and carbon–fiberglass systems that are providing greater efficiencies and durability, but are also presenting major new manufacturing challenges. Zayas also discusses the enormous appetite wind turbine construction has for materials, such as fiberglass, and notes that competition for fiberglass with aerospace manufacturing has created a shortage among suppliers. (Note: for glass companies, such as PPG Industries, the demand for fiberglass for wind applications, is allowing the reopening of mothballed factories.)