Forget feet and inches, latest UK units of measurement are thinking bigger

Testing wind turbine blades the size of three rusty angel wingspans

Reg Standards Bureau The UK has announced new units of measurement as part of pronouncements on wind turbines by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT).

While many might have expected meters and centimeters to be replaced by feet and inches as the UK throws off the shackles of the metric system, an announcement of a wind turbine test facility to be built in Northumberland as part of an £86 million ($109 million) investment in the technology contained new measures that will need to be added to the National Curriculum.

Or The Register's online standards converter at the very least.

In a briefing, Sunak boasted of wind turbines, the size of which were "the equivalent of the Eiffel Tower, with blades bigger than Big Ben."

Big Ben – yes, we know that's the name of the bell, and there are several other names, including the Clock Tower and the Elizabeth Tower – is approximately 96 meters tall. That's quite a sizeable blade. By comparison, the blades at the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm, which lurks in the sea off Brighton, measure a paltry 55 meters.

However, not to be outdone, DSIT has already moved on from the Big Ben as a unit of length, and adopted the wingspan of the Angel of the North as its preferred measurement. It announced that the Blyth facility in Northumberland will be able to test turbines with blades up to 150 meters long, or "three times the wingspan" of the public artwork.

According to Gateshead Council, the wingspan of the famous structure clocks in at 54 meters. DSIT appears to think it is only 50 meters, but for the sake of six Osmans, we'll cut them some slack.

There is also the potential to go to blades measuring 180 meters at the facility, or a few Osmans less than one Seattle Space Needle.

The Osman was added to The Register's online standards converter at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as citizens attempted to grapple with advice on social distancing. Thanks to this invaluable tool, we can also reveal that those 150-meter blades are equivalent to just over 16 double-decker buses.

You're welcome. ®

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