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Lightening up wind farm turbines

This is Science Today. With the national push for the adoption of renewable energy, wind farms are springing up along many skylines. The 260-foot turbines can harness enough energy from the wind to provide electricity to thousands of homes. To maximize their performance, Case Van Dam, a mechanical and aeronautical engineer at the University of California, Davis, is working on developing lighter components.

Van Dam: A lighter blade is typically less expensive. All the weight is on the top of the turbine, if the blades are lighter, the top of the turbine becomes lighter, you can get away with a smaller tower, less of a foundation, the cost of the turbine starts to come down, your cost of energy starts to come down.

Narrator: Van Dam says using wind energy is also often cheaper than producing energy from natural gas.

Van Dam: So, that makes it very interesting for the utilities, of course, because now you start to incorporate renewables without having a significant impact on the cost of energy.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.