Rotor blades for a wind turbines include a structural support member disposed internal the rotor blade that extends for at least a portion of a rotor blade span length and an airfoil structure supported by the structural support member, the airfoil structure comprising a shell portion and at least one load-transferring exterior panel. The shell portion and the at least one load-transferring exterior panel combine to form an aerodynamic profile comprising a leading edge opposite a trailing edge and a pressure side opposite a suction side. Moreover, the shell portion and the at least one load-transferring exterior panel are independently connected to the structural support member.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
 This invention was partially made with government support under government contract No. DE-AR0000293 awarded by the Department of Energy. The government has certain rights to this invention.