Rising energy prices and carbon emission standards are driving a fundamental shift from fossil fuels to alternative sources of energy such as biofuel, solar, wind, clean coal and nuclear. In 2008, the U.S. installed 8,358 MW of new wind capacity increasing the total installed wind power by 50% to 25,170 MW. A key technology to improve the efficiency of wind turbines is smart rotor blades that can monitor the physical loads being applied by the wind and then adapt the airfoil for increased energy capture. For extreme wind and gust events, the airfoil could be changed to reduce the loads to prevent excessive fatigue or catastrophic failure. Knowledge of the actual loading to the turbine is also useful for maintenance planning and design improvements. In this work, an array of uniaxial and triaxial accelerometers was integrally manufactured into a 9m smart rotor blade. DC type accelerometers were utilized in order to estimate the loading and deflection from both quasi-steady-state and dynamic events. A method is presented that designs an estimator of the rotor blade static deflection and loading and then optimizes the placement of the sensor(s). Example results show that the method can identify the optimal location for the sensor for both simple example cases and realistic complex loading. The optimal location of a single sensor shifts towards the tip as the curvature of the blade deflection increases with increasingly complex wind loading. The framework developed is practical for the expansion of sensor optimization in more complex blade models and for higher numbers of sensors.© (2009) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.