Pathways to Sustainable European Energy Pathways
Pathways to Sustainable European Energy Systems






Progress in wind-turbine technology increases profitability and electricity-system value


Over the past years, the development of onshore wind turbines has largely been directed towards higher turbine towers and reduced specific power (defined as rated power divided by the swept area of the turbine). Higher turbine towers leads to increased exploitation of higher wind speeds at higher altitudes while a reduction in specific power leads to increased utilization of low wind speeds. This development significantly increases capacity factors and reduces production variability of wind turbines.


A master thesis within the Pathways programme has in detail analysed system effects of this technological development by using the electricity-system model toolbox developed within the Pathways programme. The results from the studies of the Danish and Swedish power systems show that wind turbines with lower specific power, than the traditional configurations, are more profitable and generate more value to the power systems even though they have higher levelized cost of electricity. The results indicate high value of wind power from turbines with low specific power in future power systems, with very low carbon emissions, for penetrstion levels up to 60 to 80 % of the electricity generation (Swedish and Danish conditions conditions under strict CO2 emissions limitations, respectively). Corresponding numbers for current state of the art turbines point at 20 % lower penetration levels.