A report from the Journal of Geophysical Research sees 72 million gigawatts as the ultimate capacity of wind power world-wide, five times the world consumption of energy of all types in 2002. China, already a world leader in the widespread use of solar water heaters, is set to become leader in wind power turbines also, and is already driving down wind turbine prices.
One of the main trends in turbine development is increased size and rating for offshore installations; other continuing trends are variable-speed operation and the use of direct-drive generators. Principal associated developments are:
- Resource evaluation (wind measurements, modelling).
- Standards and certification. Improved aerodynamic efficiency.
- Cost reductions (value engineering, component development).
- Advanced turbine development (new concepts).
In addition to increasing installation of turbines offshore in Europe, the development of offshore sites is advancing in the United States.
IEC Technical Committee 88 prepares standards that deal with safety, measurement techniques and test procedures for wind turbine generator systems. It has produced standards for design requirements, acoustic noise measurement techniques, measurement of mechanical loads, and communications for monitoring and control of wind power plants. Its current work programme includes both standards and design requirements for offshore wind turbines, for gearboxes and for wind farm power performance testing.