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Growian wind turbine blade

GROWIAN was the largest wind turbine in the world for a long time. Much about the turbine was new, and had never been tried before on this scale. There was an error in the design of the casing, which meant that the turbine could not be operated at full power. Issues with materials and construction made it impossible to run it continuously as a test. The turbine stood still for most of the time between the first test run on 6 July 1983 through to when operations ceased in August 1987. It officially came into commission on 4 October 1983.

The official commencement of the test phase of operation was marked by a grand launch on 17 October 1983. The rated electric output of the GROWIAN was 3,000 kW (3 MW): a world record at the time. The rotor had a pendulum hub and a diameter of 100.4 m. The two rotor blades could be adjusted mechanically and electrically. They turned at around 18.5 rotations per minute.

Despite its innovations, GROWIAN is considered to be one of the biggest failures in the history of wind energy use. The turbine could not meet the expectations placed on it. The few findings gained were only of little use in the construction of wind turbines. However, a number of lessons were learned from the design mistakes that had been made. These included the fact that the approach of trying to use huge individual turbines to compete with traditional power plants was doomed to fail.

Now, the tower and one of the rotor blades can be seen in the Technik Museum Sinsheim. The rotor blade positioned next to Concorde is considered an emblem of the museum, due to its height, and can be seen from a sizeable distance.