TABLE 6.1 Areas of Potential Technology Improvements for Wind Turbines

Technical Area

Potential Advances

Performance and Cost Increments (best/expected/least [percent])

Annual Energy Production

Turbine Capital Cost

Advanced tower concepts

  • Taller towers in difficult locations

  • New materials or processes

  • Advanced structures/foundations

  • Self-erecting, initial, or for service

+11/+11/+11

+8/+12/+20

Advanced (enlarged) rotors

  • Advanced materials

  • Improved structural-aerodynamic design

  • Active controls

  • Passive controls

  • Higher tip speed/lower noise levels

+35/+25/+10

−6/−3/+3

Reduced energy losses and improved availability

  • Reduced blade-soiling losses

  • Damage-tolerant sensors

  • Robust control systems

  • Prognostic maintenance

+7/+5/0

0/0/0

Drive train (gear boxes, generators, and power electronics)

  • Fewer gear stages or direct-drive

  • Medium/low speed generators

  • Distributed gearbox topologies

  • Permanent-magnet generators

  • Medium-voltage equipment

  • Advanced gear-tooth profiles

  • New circuit topologies

  • New semiconductor devices

  • New materials (gallium arsenide [GaAs], SiC)

+8/+4/0

−11/−6/+1

Manufacturing and learning curve

  • Sustained incremental design and process improvements

  • Large-scale manufacturing

  • Reduced design loads

0/0/0

−27/−13/−3

Totals

 

+61/+45/+21

−36/−10/+21

Source: Thresher et al., 2007.



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