Wind energy: Current status and future prospects

Alfred J. Cavallo, "Wind energy: Current status and future prospects," Science & Global Security, 4, no. 1, (1993): 65-109.
Field operation of more than 17,800 wind turbines in Denmark and California during the past 10 years has thoroughly tested and proven the present generation of wind turbine technology. Reliability is now satisfactory; in addition, wind farm operation and maintenance procedures have been mastered. Unit size has increased by a factor of 10 during the past decade: wind turbines rated at 0.5 megawatts are now available commercially from several manufacturers. Moreover, advances in wind turbine technology in the next 20 years (such as advanced materials for airfoils and transmissions, better controls and operating strategies, and improved high-power-handling electronics) will substantially reduce capital costs as well as operation and maintenance costs. In areas with good wind resources (450 watts per square meter wind power density at hub height), wind turbines now generate electricity at a cost of $0.053 per kilowatt-hour (6 percent interest, all taxes neglected). With a mature wind turbine technology, the cost is expected to decline to less than $0.03 kWh, rendering wind-generated electricity fully competitive with electricity from coal-fired generating stations. In addition, economically exploitable wind resources (wind power density > 300 watts m^2 at 50 meters) are extensive and widely distributed, and, in general, wind-generated electricity can be easily integrated into utility grids without provision for storage. As a result, the development of economically competitive wind turbines should have a profound impact on energy production industries in many parts of the world.

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