Wind turbine technology

By Maureen Aylward

Wind energy is swiftly gaining traction and attention. We asked our Zintro experts to talk about the latest wind turbine technology.

Scott Gregory, a renewable energy consultant, says that magnetic levitation or “maglev” is the latest advancement in large wind turbine technology. “Maglev technology provides lower operating cost, less maintenance, and more even power output than gear boxes with bearings, which is the older technology,” says Gregory. “Since 2008, China, the US, and Germany have adopted maglev and have begun installations and replacements. Larger blades – up to 380 feet in radius – are improving performance by allowing turbines to produce power with lower wind speeds. Some of the top manufactures are using these new turbines in Texas and various offshore projects.”

Dr. Ib Olsen, an energy storage and clean tech consultant, says that for large wind turbines, new innovation is focused on permanent magnet generators (i.e. Siemens) and gearless transmission. “Innovation in the large wind turbines are expensive and slow, even though there is some opportunity in sensors and control,” says Olsen. “Smaller wind turbines are lower cost entry points for small companies. Urban wind turbines are getting attention because of the proximity to load centers and no extra transmission or distribution infrastructure is needed to accommodate the turbines. Typically, electricity production could be used within the building where the turbines are located. But, cost is a key driver.”

By Maureen Aylward

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