DOE Releases Report On Innovative, Next-Generation Wind Turbine Drivetrains

December 22, 2010

The Department of Energy’s Wind and Water Power Program today released a report on the key findings of its Advanced Wind Turbine Drivetrain Workshop, held on June 29-30, 2010 in Broomfield, Colorado. The workshop convened technical experts from the wind industry, national laboratories, universities, and technology developers to assess the potential for different advanced drivetrain technologies to improve the state-of-the-art in wind turbine drivetrains. The workshop report describes the benefits and commercialization challenges facing four major categories of drivetrain technologies: superconducting drivetrains; advanced permanent magnet generators; continuously variable transmissions and fluid drive systems; and innovative and non-traditional drivetrain concepts.

The drivetrain of a wind turbine converts the low-speed, high-torque rotation of the turbine’s rotor (blades and hub assembly) into electrical energy. Current drivetrain designs can include some of the heaviest, most expensive components of a wind turbine, and drivetrain equipment failures can lead to expensive repairs, turbine downtime, and higher risk premiums. The next-generation drivetrain designs described in the report have the potential to lower the cost of wind energy by radically improving the reliability, performance, and capital cost of wind turbines.

Download the Advanced Wind Turbine Drivetrain Concepts Workshop Report (PDF)