Perspectives on innovative concepts in wind-power generation

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After harvesting energy from the wind for centuries, for a long period in history which started with the industrial revolution, wind power development has lagged behind due to the advent of other types of technologies based on fossil fuels and nuclear fission. It was not until the 20th century that technological developments in other fields revolutionized wind power conversion and ultimately led to modern wind turbine systems. This re-emergence of wind as a significant energy source is now encouraged by the need to meet increasing worldwide electricity demand and reduce the environmental impact caused by the conventional electricity generation technologies. Considerable progress in wind-power technology during the last decades has pushed it as an important supplier of grid-connected electricity in the worldwide energy picture. Today, wind turbines on the market show a variety of innovative concepts combined with proven technology for both generators and power electronics. But, there are still several technological challenges in wind power. Some are related to the development of utility-scale turbines of cheaper construction, transport and deployment, that may further reduce generation cost at both inland and offshore locations. Some others are related to finding practical and economical ways of harvesting wind energy at the small-scale level for isolated consumers or for distributed generation systems. The objective of this paper is to explore innovative concepts proposed in wind power that may help address these challenges by going beyond the classical evolutive-design process. © 2011 International Energy Initiative.

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Energy for Sustainable Development