Wind energy developments in the 20th centuryWind turbine systems for generating electrical power have been tested in many countries. Representative examples of turbines which have produced from 100 to 1250 kW are described. The advantages of wind energy consist of its being a nondepleting, nonpolluting, and free fuel source. Its disadvantages relate to the variability of wind and the high installation cost per kilowatt of capacity of wind turbines when compared to other methods of electric-power generation. High fuel costs and potential resource scarcity have led to a five-year joint NASA-NSF program to study wind energy. The program will study wind energy conversion and storage systems with respect to cost effectiveness, and will attempt to estimate national wind-energy potential and develop techniques for generator site selection. The studies concern a small-systems (50-250 kW) project, a megawatt-systems (500-3000 kW) project, supporting research and technology, and energy storage. Preliminary economic analyses indicate that wind-energy conversion can be competitive in high-average-wind areas.
Vargo, D. J. (NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, Ohio, United States)