Onshore and Offshore Wind 561 Technology Description and Status

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The commercial and technological development of wind energy has been closely related to turbine size. From 10 m in the mid-1970s, wind turbines have grown to diameters of 126 m, with multi-MW installed power (Fig. 5.1). Increasing the rotor diameter is an important prerequisite in developing turbines for offshore applications. All new offshore wind farms are expected to have turbines exceeding 1.5 MW.

Modern wind turbines are designed to have a lifetime of 20 years. Other technological developments include variable-pitch (as opposed to fixed-blade) rotors, direct drives, variable-speed conversion systems, power electronics, better materials and improved ratios between the weight of materials and generating capacity.

Source: German Wind Energy Institute (DEWI), 2004.

Key point

Up-scaling wind turbine rotor diameter has allowed for multi-megawatt turbine output. Fig. 5.1 Development of wind turbine size

Source: German Wind Energy Institute (DEWI), 2004.

Key point

Up-scaling wind turbine rotor diameter has allowed for multi-megawatt turbine output. Fig. 5.1 Development of wind turbine size

There are important economies of scale to be achieved in wind turbines. Larger machines can usually deliver electricity at a lower average cost than smaller ones. The reason is that the cost of foundations, road building, maintenance, electrical grid connections and a number of components in the turbine are largely independent of the size of the machine. Large turbines with tall towers use wind resources more efficiently. There is less fluctuation in the electricity output if a number of widely spaced wind parks feed energy into the grid in order to take advantage of the variations in wind regimes at specific sites to offset intermittency.

In 2004, installed global wind capacity exceeded 47 GW, including 578 MW of offshore capacity. Germany has the largest amount of installed capacity, followed by Spain, the United States, and Denmark. India has nearly 3 GW of installed capacity. Offshore wind is currently employed by Denmark, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Sweden.

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Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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