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Techno-economic comparison of operational aspects for direct drive and gearbox-driven wind turbines

McMillan, David and Ault, G.W. (2010) Techno-economic comparison of operational aspects for direct drive and gearbox-driven wind turbines. IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion, 25 (1). pp. 191-198. ISSN 0885-8969

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Abstract

The majority of wind turbines currently in operation have the conventional Danish concept design-that is, the three-bladed rotor of such turbines is indirectly coupled with an electrical generator via a gearbox. Recent technological developments have enabled direct drive wind turbines to become economically feasible. Potentially, direct drive wind turbines may enjoy higher levels of availability due to the removal of the gearbox from the design. However, this is only a theory: so far not substantiated by detailed analytic calculation. By providing such a calculation, this paper enables us to quantitatively evaluate technical and economic merits of direct drive and gearbox-driven wind turbines.