For the foreseeable future, wind turbines, and consequently wind generators, will continue to get bigger and bigger-both in terms of average physical size and in the average output power rating of these machines. The average power rating of a utility scale wind generator was 1.75 megawatts in 2011 and is expected to rise to nearly 2.4 megawatts by 2017, according to a recently released report entitled "The World Market for Wind Generators" from IMS Research, now part of IHS.
That may not seem like a large increase, but it equates to roughly 250 more homes per wind generator being supplied with clean renewable power, based on average U.S. electricity consumption rates. With many wind farm projects consisting of more than 100 wind turbines, the relatively minor increases in average output power per turbine can add up rapidly. The number of additional homes potentially supplied by wind power can increase even more in other regions of the world where electricity consumption per household is much lower than in the United States.
"Based on the physics principles involved, a relatively small increase in a wind turbine's blade length and the corresponding swept area exponentially expands the amount of wind energy that is captured and then converted to electricity by the generator," said Greg Johnson, generators analyst at IHS. "Therefore, the utility-scale wind generators market continues to move toward generators with higher output power ratings to keep pace with the growing size of wind turbines."