Tvindkraft – the oldest operating wind turbine in the world

Jack Unwin 13 August 2019 (Last Updated August 14th, 2019 09:44)

A look at Tvindkraft in Denmark, the world’s oldest operating wind turbine.

Tvindkraft – the oldest operating wind turbine in the world
Tvindkraft as it first looked in 1978. Credit: Tvindkraft

Wind turbines have an average lifetime of about 25 years, but the world’s oldest operating example has been generating power for 41 years. Operating in the town of the Tvind in Jutland, Denmark, the Tvind wind turbine, also known as the Tvindkraft, was the first multi-megawatt wind turbine in the world.

Tvindkraft wind turbine

Having begun construction in 1975, Tvindkraft was not commissioned at a government level but was instead organised by the teachers of a local school, as they wished to take control of their heating bills during the energy crisis of the early 1970s. The teachers also wanted to take a stand against the rise of nuclear power and show that there was an alternative to oil and nuclear was available.

Work began on the site on 29 May 1975 with 400 volunteers helping to lay the initial groundwork for the turbine. Tvindkraft was officially opened on 26 March 1978 and has continuously produced power since this date.

The turbine has been recognised internationally and was awarded the European Solar Prize in 2008 for the educational effect the turbine has had on the local community.

Tvindkraft statistics

The Tvindkraft turbine had an initial capacity of 2MW; however, it has mostly functioned at half of its capacity at 1MW.

It has a height of 53m and a wing diameter of 54m. The wings sweep an area of 2,290m2 and while turning at a maximum of 21 revolutions per minute it produces an annual yield of 500,000 kilowatt-hours (KWh).

To put this in context, a new offshore turbine created by GE Renewable Energy called the Haliade X is 260m tall with 107m blades. One of these turbines alone can power 16,000 households on a typical day in the North German Sea.

The legacy of Tvindkraft

The Tvindkraft turbine has also helped to create a strong engineering legacy for the technical community of Denmark. Tvindkraft caretaker Britta Jensen said: “Young engineers gained practical as well as theoretical experience from the build, which was never patented, and they got inspiration from seeing such a big turbine in action.”

It also left a social legacy as Tvindkraft is maintained by volunteers and caretakers, and also led to the creation of the Tvind Climate Centre.

As well as providing organic vegetables and recycling waste in the area, the centre also works towards planting trees around the world and provides solar lamps to schools in Africa.