Wind turbines: rotor diameter size 1990-2019

Enormous progress has been made in wind turbine technology since the start of modern wind energy use in the mid-eighties, which is reflected among other things in the changes in size of the equipment installed. In the mid-80s, small turbines with a capacity of an average of around 30 kilowatts and rotor diameters of below 15 meters were turned into machines with nominal power of five megawatts or above and with a rotor diameter of approximately 100 meters. In 2019, the average size of the rotor diameter of wind turbines was 129 meters.

Growing wind turbines

There are two main ways to produce more wind power within a given area. First, the size of the rotor and blades can be increased to cover a wider area and thus, increasing the capacity of the turbines. Second, the turbine and blades can be raised higher up into the atmosphere where winds are steadier which would increase the turbine’s capacity factor. In order to make onshore wind turbines bigger, materials and designs must be considered in order to withstand the stressors from high altitudes and strong winds. Several non-technical factors must also be taken into account such as transportation and infrastructure limitations, land use concerns, and the presence of large birds. One of the largest wind power plants in the United States is the Alta Wind Energy Center, located in California with an installed capacity of 1.55 gigawatts.

Rotor diameter size of wind energy turbines from 1990 to 2019 (in meters)*

Size in meters
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Source

Release date

2019

Region

Worldwide

Survey time period

1990 to 2019

Supplementary notes

* Onshore turbines

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Statistics on "Global wind power"

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