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The ‘world’s largest’ ultra-high-altitude wind farm just came online: ‘The logistics … [are a] huge accomplishment’

“With stability control technology, we have overcome the problems caused by the ultra-high altitude.”

"With stability control technology, we have overcome the problems caused by the ultra-high altitude."

Photo Credit: iStock

First-of-their-kind wind farms are popping up all over the world, as more countries seek to take advantage of this underutilized renewable energy source. One of the latest is the “world’s largest ultra-high-altitude wind farm,” located in Tibet (which China now refers to as the Xizang Autonomous Region), as Electrek reports.

The wind farm was built by CHN Energy for $90.3 million and took around 260 days. At an elevation of 15,256 feet, it is well over the 11,483-foot threshold to be considered “ultra-high,” according to Electrek.

Clean, renewable wind energy from the farm’s 25 turbines will be used to provide power to 140,000 homes in Nagqu City, Tibet’s largest prefecture-level city. The developers said that they expect it to reduce carbon dioxide pollution by about 176,000 tons annually. 

Developing a wind farm at such a high altitude leaves the turbines exposed to some extremely harsh elements, a problem that the developers said they dealt with by specially designing a smart wind power platform. 

“With stability control technology, we have overcome the problems caused by the ultra-high altitude, including the low efficiency of wind energy conversion and the deceleration of wind turbines’ blades,” the head of the project, Hu Jiansheng, said in a China Media Group article quoted by Electrek.

Hu added that they had also, “invented a special technique to spray the outer layer of the paint to effectively prevent it from turning too dry and crispy, mitigating the aging of other exposed parts of the wind turbines.”

Other first-of-their-kind wind projects that we have seen recently include the world’s largest floating offshore wind farm, located off the coast of Norway, and the world’s largest wind turbine, also in China.

Electrek’s commenters were highly impressed by the high-altitude wind farm.

“This is actually really interesting. The air pressure at such altitudes is so low that it takes a lot larger turbine to get the same amount of power compared to one at sea level. I’m impressed they were able to tackle this problem successfully,” wrote one commenter. “The flip side being the insane energy potential from tidal, as water is so much more dense. But that comes with its own set of headaches.”

“The logistics of keeping a crew of workers productive and safe at 15,256 feet (or 4,650 meters) and actually [building] a major project (that works successfully) [are a] huge accomplishment. Kudos to them,” wrote another.

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