Innovative Rail Transport of a Supersized Land-Based Wind Turbine Blade: Article No. 042041

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Wind turbine blade logistic providers are being challenged with escalating costs and routing complexities as one-piece blade approach lengths of 75 m in various regions of the U.S. land-based market. New lower cost solutions are needed to enable further reductions in the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) and continued market expansion. In this paper, a novel method of using existing U.S. rail infrastructure to deploy 100-m, one-piece blades to U.S. land-based wind sites is numerically investigated. The study removes the constraint that blades must be kept rigid during transport, and it allows bending to keep blades within a clearance profile while navigating horizontal and vertical curvatures. Novel system optimization and blade design processes consider blade structural constraints and rail logistic constraints in parallel to develop a highly flexible, rail-transportable blade. Results indicate maximum deployment potential in the Interior region of the United States and limited deployment potential in other regions. The study concludes that innovative rail transportation solutions combined with advanced rotor technologies can provide a feasible alternative to segmentation and support continued LCOE reductions in the U.S. land-based wind energy market.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physics: Conference Series
StatePublished - 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-76893


  • blade design
  • blade logistics
  • blade scaling
  • MDAO
  • rail transport
  • rotor design
  • supersized blades
  • system optimization
  • transportation barrier


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