AWEA lauds turbine technology gains

Increasing turbine performance and production has driven down wind energy costs, enabling the industry to become even more competitive with conventional electricity sources, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

It notes in a release that wind generation has outpaced capacity additions thanks to innovative technological improvements. Wind installations have increased 140% during the past five years while electricity output from those turbines had risen at a rate of 200%.

AWEA highlights that technological innovation and operational improvements are driving turbine performance and output, which in turn has lowered energy costs and allowed development in regions with lower wind speeds.

Advancements undertaken by manufacturers include designing taller towers and turbines with longer and lighter blades, allowing rotor diameters to exceed 100 metres.

“The power of the wind is directly proportional to the swept area of the blades. So an increase in rotor diameter has spurred development in low and medium wind speed areas, and has added to the efficiency of existing sites,” AWEA says.

The industry group notes that tower heights have grown steadily in the past five years, allowing developers to access higher, steadier wind resources. A decade ago, the average wind turbine was installed on a 65-meter tower versus 80-meters today. Now heights of up to 100-meters are being utilized.

Operational improvements have also contributed to increased wind output. AWEA says that more informed operations and maintenance strategies have led to the highest performance levels ever seen in the US wind industry, surpassing 50% in the wind-rich US interior.