Technological Learning in the Energy Sector

Technological Learning in the Energy Sector

Lessons for Policy, Industry and Science

Edited by Martin Junginger, Wilfried van Sark and André Faaij

Technological learning is a key driver behind the improvement of energy technologies and subsequent reduction of production costs. Understanding how and why production costs for energy technologies decline, and whether they will continue to do so in the future, is of crucial importance for policy makers, industrial stakeholders and scientists alike. This timely and informative book therefore provides a comprehensive review of technological development and cost reductions for renewable energy, clean fossil fuel and energy-efficient demand-side technologies.

Chapter 6: Onshore Wind Energy

Martin Junginger, Paul Lako, Lena Neij, David Milborrow and Wuter Engels

Subjects: economics and finance, energy economics, environment, energy policy and regulation, innovation and technology, technology and ict


Martin Junginger, Paul Lako, Lena Neij, Wouter Engels and David Milborrow 6.1 INTRODUCTION Wind turbines are one of the oldest forms of renewable energy known to mankind, and are based on the principle of converting the kinetic energy of the wind into useful mechanical energy (e.g. water pumping) and, more recently, from mechanical energy via a generator into electricity. Wind turbines for electricity production have been developed since the early twentieth century, but the first large-scale implementation started in the late 1970s, mainly in Denmark and the USA. At that time, a variety of horizontal and vertical axis wind turbines with a varying number of blades (1–4) were built, typically in the capacity range of 10–30 kW. Since then, the three-blade horizontal-axis wind turbine has emerged as the dominant design, having been scaled up over the last three decades to 5 MW as commercially available now, and to 6 MW or more as prototypes (Enercon, Repower, Bard). The average capacity of wind turbines installed in 2008 was 1.57 MW (BTM Consult, 2009), but there is a strong geographical variation. In Europe, the average wind turbine size was about 1.7 MW while in the Americas and in Asia, the average was 1.34 MW and 1.22 MW respectively. There is also a fair spread around this average; for instance in the Netherlands the turbine sizes varied from 0.8 to 3 MW (WSH, 2009). Technology development is still ongoing, but the wind turbines currently deployed can be considered as technically mature....

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