Advanced Materials Enable Renewable Wind Energy Capture and Generation

  • Colin Tong


Advanced materials play a crucial role in wind power to enable renewable wind energy capture and generation. Composite materials such as polymer-matrix reinforced with fiberglass or graphite fibers have been used to make rotor blades of wind turbines. In the turbines, compact electrical generators contain powerful magnets made from rare earth materials. The electrical generator is driven by the rotation of the turbine blades through a gearbox, which uses special alloys in order to accommodate a wide range of wind speeds. As turbine sizes continue to increase, and the growth of offshore installations, the durability of turbine materials faces more and more challenges due mainly to long-time exposure to higher stresses and hostile environments. In addition, the turbine blades must maintain adequate stiffness to prevent failure due to deflection and buckling. They also need adequate long-term fatigue life in harsh conditions, including variable winds, ice loading, and lightning strikes. Therefore, development of next-generation wind turbine components and materials requires research on advanced materials and key components to improve performance and reliability; development of new architectures for larger, lightweight turbines that reduce overall mass (reducing costs) and provide access to better wind resources (larger rotors, taller towers), and improved systems performance (capacity factor); improvements in turbine cost, strength, weight, and fatigue to reduce operations and maintenance costs and reduce the failure rate for large components, such as blades, gearboxes, generators, power electronics, and collection systems; and innovations to solve transport and installation cost limitations for large-scale turbine systems and components. This chapter will address these critical issues and provide a brief review about the progress of advanced materials enabling renewable wind energy capture and generation.


  1. Abrahamsen, A., et al.: Superconducting wind turbine generators. Supercond. Sci. Technol. 23(3), 034019 (2010)Google Scholar
  2. Advani, S.G., Sozer, E.M.: Process Modeling in Composites Manufacturing. Marcel Dekker, New York (2003)Google Scholar
  3. Alan, B.: Concrete for the next generation of wind farms. Concrete (1/2), 24–25 (2006)Google Scholar
  4. AMO: Global Wind Day 2016—AMO’s role in applying 3D printing to wind blade mold manufacturing. (2016). Accessed 27 July 2017
  5. Ancona, D., McVeigh, J.: Wind Turbine—Materials And Manufacturing Fact Sheet, August. Washington, DC Princeton Energy Resources International. (2001). Accessed 30 Jan 2017
  6. Baker, D.A., Rials, T.G.: Recent advances in low-cost carbon fiber manufacture from lignin. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 130, 713 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barnard, M.: Vertical axis wind turbines: Great in 1890, also-rans in 2014. (2014). Accessed 3 Feb 2017
  8. Böhme, C.: How rotor blades defy the forces of nature. (2017). Accessed 17 July 2017
  9. Buka, S.: Adiabatic pressed air energy storage. Primus Green Energy: Formula for energy. (2010). Accessed 26 July 2010
  10. Burton, T., Jenkins, N., Sharpe, D., Bossanyi, E.: Wind Energy Handbook. Wiley, New York (2001). isbn:978-0471489979CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Carrasco, J.M., Bialasiewicz, J.T., Guisado, R.C.P., ILeón, J.: Power-electronic systems for the grid integration of renewable energy sources: A survey. IEEE Trans. Ind. Electron. 53(4), 1002–1016 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. CDA: Wind energy basics. Copper Development Association Inc. Acopper Alliance Member. (2017). Accessed 20 July 2017
  13. Chen, H., Cong, T.N., Yang, W., Tan, C., Li, Y., Ding, Y.: Progress in electrical energy storage system: A critical review. Prog. Nat. Sci. 19, 291–312 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cherubini, A., Andrea Papini, A., Vertechy, R., Fontana, M.: Airborne wind energy systems: A review of the technologies. Renew. Sust. Energ. Rev. 51, 1461–1476 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Conti-Ramsden, J., Dyer, K.: Materials innovations for more efficient wind turbines. (2015). Accessed 27 July 2017
  16. Cresko, J.W., Roberts, P.L.: Method of induction curing conductive carbon fiber composites with radio frequency energy. 3rd World Congress on Microwave and Radio frequency applications. Sydney, 2002. (2002). Accessed 25 July 2017
  17. Dabiria, J.O., et al.: A new approach to wind energy: Opportunities and challenges. Physics of Sustainable Energy III (PSE III). AIP Conf. Proc. 1652, 51–57 (2015). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Das, S.: The cost of the automotive polymer composites: A review and assessment of the DOE’s lightweight materials composite research. ORNL/TM-2000/383. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee, January, 2001Google Scholar
  19. Das, S., Warren, J.: Cost modeling of alternative carbon Fiber manufacturing technologies—baseline model demonstration. Presented to DOE, Washington, DC, 5 Apr 2012Google Scholar
  20. Dodge, D.M.: The Illustrated History of Wind Power Development. U.S. Federal Wind Energy Program. Littleton, CO (2006). Accessed 16 July 2017.
  21. DOE CM: Quadrennial Technology Review 2015—Chapter 6: Innovating Clean Energy Technologies in Advanced Manufacturing—Composite materials. (2015). Accessed 23 July 2017
  22. Dubois: Method for the synthesis of acrylonitrile from glycerol. US Patent Application, Pub. No. US2010/0048850 A1, 25 Feb 2010Google Scholar
  23. Eker, A.A., Eker, B.: General assessment of fıber—reinforced composıtes selectıon in wınd turbıne blades. In: Attaf, B. (ed.) Recent Advances in Composite Materials for Wind Turbines Blades. WAP-AMSA, Hong Kong (2013). isbn:978-0-9889190-0-6 Accessed 12 Feb 2017Google Scholar
  24. Elliot, D.: Flights of Fancy: Airborne Wind Turbines. Institute of Physics, Environmental Research Web. (2014). Accessed 18 July 2017
  25. Engerati: Giant turbines to harness large wind potential. (2017). Accessed 18 July 2017
  26. Frank, M., Zhu, S., Peters, F.: Automated composite fabric layup for wind turbine blades. CAMX 2014 Conference Proceedings, Orlando, FL, 2–5 June 2014Google Scholar
  27. Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft: Lightweight rotor blades made from plastic foams for offshore wind turbines. Science Daily, 21 October 2016. Accessed 27 July 2017
  28. Gill, E.: Danish offshore strategy moves closer to shore. Wind power monthly. (2012). Accessed 6 Feb 2017
  29. Griffith, D.T., Johanns, W.: Large blade manufacturing cost studies using the Sandia blade manufacturing cost tool and Sandia100-meter blades. Sandia National Laboratories Technical Report, Apr 2013, SAND2013–2734.–2734.pdf (2013). Accessed 20 July 2017
  30. Harrison, R.: Understanding our Environment, p. 11. Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Haupt, S.E.: A wind power forecasting system to optimize power integration, COST ES1002 weather intelligence for renewable energies state-of-the-art workshop, Nice, France, 22–23 March 2011Google Scholar
  32. Heier, S.: Grid Integration of Wind Energy Conversion Systems, p. 45. Wiley, Chichester (2005)Google Scholar
  33. Herbert, G.M., Iniyan, S., Sreevalsan, E., Rajapandian, S.: A review of wind energy technologies. Renew. Sust. Energy Rev. 11, 1117–1145 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jha, A.R.: Wind Turbine Technology. CRC, Boca Raton (2010)Google Scholar
  35. Kaldellis, J.K., Zafirakis, D.: The wind energy (r)evolution: A short review of a long history. Renew. Energy. 36(2011), 1887–1901 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kaltschmitt, M., Streicher, W., Wiese, A.: Renewable Energy: Technology, Economics, and Environment, p. 55. Springer, Berlin (2007)Google Scholar
  37. King, D.: DOE supports hydrogen cars with $7 million for longer driving ranges. (2014). Accessed July 2017
  38. Luo, X., Wang, J., Dooner, M., Clarke, J.: Overview of current development in electrical energy storage technologies and the application potential in power system operation. Appl. Energy. 137, 511–536 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Manwell, J.F., McGowan, J.G., Rogers, A.L.: Wind Energy Explained—Theory, Design and Application, pp. 247–319. Wiley, New York (2002)Google Scholar
  40. Masuelli, M.A.: Introduction of Fiber-Reinforced Polymers—Polymers and Composites: Concepts, Properties and Processes. InTech, New York (2013)Google Scholar
  41. Meyer, N.I.: Danish wind power development. Energy Sustain. Dev. 2, 18–25 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Mijatovic, N., Jensen, B.B., Abrahamsen, A.B., Træholt, C.: Superconducting Wind Turbine Generators. Technical University of Denmark, Kgs. Lyngby (2012)Google Scholar
  43. Mishnaevsky, L. Jr.: Composite materials in wind energy technology. (2011). Accessed 1 Feb 2017
  44. Molina, M.G., Alvarez, J.M.G.: Technical and regulatory exigencies for grid connection of wind generation. In: Suvire, G.O. (ed.) Wind Farm—Technical Regulations, Potential Estimation and Siting Assessment. INTECH (2011). isbn:978-953-307-483-2Google Scholar
  45. Molly, J.P.: Design of wind turbines and storage: A question of system optimization. DEWI, 40, Feb (2012)Google Scholar
  46. Monteiro, C., Bessa, R., Miranda, V., Botterud, A., Wang, J., Conzelmann, G.: Wind Power Forecasting: State-of-The-Art 2009. Tech. Rep. ANL/DIS-10-1, vol. 2009. Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), ArgonneGoogle Scholar
  47. NREL: Wind data. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy (2014)Google Scholar
  48. Patrick, J.F., Hart, K.R., Krull, B.P., Diesendruck, C.E., Moore, J.S., White, S.R., Sottos, N.R.: Continuous self-healing life cycle in vascularized structural composites. Adv. Mater. 26, 4302–4308 (2014). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. PEIS: Upper great plains wind energy. The online center for public involvement in the Upper Great Plains Wind Energy Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) (2014)Google Scholar
  50. Plee: Method of manufacturing carbon fibres, US Patent Application, Pub. No. US2010/0047153 A1, Pub. Date Feb. 25 2010Google Scholar
  51. Righter, R. W.: Wind Energy in America: A History. Universityof Oklahoma Press, Norman (1996)Google Scholar
  52. Ragheb, M.: Energy storage with wind power. (2017). Accessed 25 July 2017
  53. Rehmana, S., Al-Hadhramia, L.M., Alam, M.M.: Pumped hydro energy storage system: A technological review. Renew. Sust. Energ. Rev. 44, 586–598 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. REUK: Savonius wind turbines. (2014). Accessed 16 Feb 2017
  55. Singh, A.N.: Concrete construction for wind energy towers. Indian Concrete J. 43–49 (2007)Google Scholar
  56. Stenzel, P., Linssen, J.: Concept and potential of pumped hydro storage in federal waterways. Appl. Energy. 162, 486–493 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Strong, A.B.: Fundamentals of Composites Manufacturing: Materials, Methods and Applications. Society of Manufacturing Engineers, Dearborn (2008)Google Scholar
  58. Swan, D., Pierre, G.: Novel reactively polymerized liquid thermoplastic resins process like thermosets but offer post-mold thermoformability, weldability and recyclability. Presented at the 2014 SPE ACCE Conference, September 10, 2014Google Scholar
  59. Swierczynski, M., Teodorescu, R., Rasmussen, C.N., Rodriguez, P., Vikelgaard, H.: Overview of the energy storage Systems for Wind Power Integration Enhancement. Industrial Electronics (ISIE), 2010 I.E. International Symposium on. (2010). Accessed 25 July 2017
  60. UpWind: Design limits and solutions for very large turbines, Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Development of the European Commission (FP6), Brussels (2011)Google Scholar
  61. Warudkar, V., Ahmed, S.: Wind resource assessment: A review. Int. J. Min. Metall. Mech. Eng. 1(3), 204–207 (2013)Google Scholar
  62. White, J.: Smart turbine blades to improve wind power. (2009). Accessed 1 March 2017
  63. Wood, K.: Wind turbine blades: Glass vs. carbon fiber. Composites Technology, May 31 2012. Accessed 19 July 2017
  64. WSA: Steel solutions in the green economy: Wind turbines. World Steel Association, Brussels (2012). Accessed 19 July 2017Google Scholar
  65. Yang, X., Patterson, D., Hudgins, J.: Permanent magnet generator design and control for large wind turbines. IEEE Power Electronics and Machines in Wind Applications (PEMWA), Denver, Coronado, 6–18 July 2012. doi:
  66. Zipp, K.: Driving down the cost of wind power with permanent magnet generators. (2011). Accessed 12 March 2017

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin Tong
    • 1
  1. 1.ChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations