Present and Future Trends in Wind Turbine Technology

Present and Future Trends in Wind Turbine Technology

Utility grade wind turbines have come to be so technologically advanced that they have improved the cost of energy of wind sufficient to turn into a lot more mainstream than ever before and compete with today’s conventional energy sources. We’ve decided to investigate the patent landscape to determine what technological trends have emerged thus far and what we might be able to infer for the future direction of wind turbine technology. At this time, the assessment was limited to the most prevalent sector of wind turbine technology utility grade, horizontal axis wind turbines.

The search was conducted utilizing a comprehensive approach, as well as thorough reading and examination of results. A patent database and search portal were used which covers 90 different patent authorities worldwide, including 20 countries that provide full-text file search as well as legal status information. We first identified a set of keywords that would provide an all-inclusive set of search results. We also identified patent classes to search to ensure that relevant results would not be omitted. Lastly, a set of assignees of over 100+ companies who have currently or previously produced wind turbine technology/components were searched.

Additionally, an assessment of the relevance of the patent to the industry was performed and results were classified as low, medium, medium/high, and high. The definitions of this classification method are below. The assessment of industry relevance serves the purpose of indicating the degree to which the patent owner has or is likely to assert their rights and seek licenses or otherwise enforce the patent. This should be an indication of the proverbial landmines to watch out for when navigating a technology and product roadmap through the landscape.

Low – Not relevant to the currently pervasive set of technologies and products in the industry.

Medium – May have been relevant in the past, but as technology evolves it is less prevalent. These are likely to shift to low in the future.

Medium/High – Important items which the industry needs to be cognizant of, but these can likely be avoided/mitigated. The influence of things like technology trends and grid standards will ultimately determine relevance.

High – Critical item which has been asserted, licensed, or enforced, or else it is highly likely to be in the future.

This evaluation, also as a substantial analysis of forwarding hunting competitive intelligence assists shape our view of future technology trends for the industry. The following are what we believe to be the emerging trends in technology, and therefore patent protection:

Component Weight Reduction (i.e. mass/cost out to maintain tower head mass ratio) – transportation across land and sea of increasingly heavy castings, towers, blades, etc.

  • Advanced materials
  • Load mitigation / controls

— Turbine Reliability

  • Drivetrain architecture (fewer gearbox stages)
  • Elimination of gearbox – direct drive

— Fleet Management

  • Condition-based maintenance solutions (CBMS) as seen in the Aerospace / Defense industry today

Performance Optimization – optimal energy production regardless of prevailing conditions

  • Max energy all the time
  • Derate / Uprate
  • Integration of turbine controls with the Condition Monitoring System (CMS)
  • Determine component remaining useful life and optimal turbine operating procedures
  • Blade aero / structural performance

Grid Friendly – requirements as identified by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and other regulatory agencies to ensure wind turbines operate much like conventional energy plants today, where output can be throttled and grid fluctuations can be absorbed, etc.

  • Variable speed control with the use of synchronous generator vs. induction
  • Low voltage ride-through (LVRT)
  • Energy storage

— Size and Transportability

  • Sectional components
  • On-site assembly procedures while maintaining component quality/integrity

Whatever the future may hold, the promise of clean energy is here. Innovation continues to drive change.

Present and Future Trends in Wind Turbine Technology – Outcomes of a Patent Landscaping Physical exercise

Utility grade wind turbines have come to be so technologically advanced that they have improved the cost of energy of wind sufficient to turn into a lot more mainstream than ever before and compete with today’s conventional energy sources. We’ve decided to investigate the patent landscape to determine what technological trends have emerged thus far and what we might be able to infer for the future direction of wind turbine technology. At this time, the assessment was limited to the most prevalent sector of wind turbine technology utility grade, horizontal axis wind turbines.

The search was conducted utilizing a comprehensive approach, as well as thorough reading and examination of results. A patent database and search portal were used which covers 90 different patent authorities worldwide, including 20 countries that provide full-text file search as well as legal status information. We first identified a set of keywords that would provide an all-inclusive set of search results. We also identified patent classes to search to ensure that relevant results would not be omitted. Lastly, a set of assignees of over 100+ companies who have currently or previously produced wind turbine technology/components were searched.

Additionally, an assessment of the relevance of the patent to the industry was performed and results were classified as low, medium, medium/high, and high. The definitions of this classification method are below. The assessment of industry relevance serves the purpose of indicating the degree to which the patent owner has or is likely to assert their rights and seek licenses or otherwise enforce the patent. This should be an indication of the proverbial landmines to watch out for when navigating a technology and product roadmap through the landscape.

Low – Not relevant to the currently pervasive set of technologies and products in the industry.

Medium – May have been relevant in the past, but as technology evolves it is less prevalent. These are likely to shift to low in the future.

Medium/High – Important items which the industry needs to be cognizant of, but these can likely be avoided/mitigated. The influence of things like technology trends and grid standards will ultimately determine relevance.

High – Critical item which has been asserted, licensed, or enforced, or else it is highly likely to be in the future.

This evaluation, also as a substantial analysis of forwarding hunting competitive intelligence assists shape our view of future technology trends for the industry. The following are what we believe to be the emerging trends in technology, and therefore patent protection:

Component Weight Reduction (i.e. mass/cost out to maintain tower head mass ratio) – transportation across land and sea of increasingly heavy castings, towers, blades, etc.

  • Advanced materials
  • Load mitigation / controls

— Turbine Reliability

  • Drivetrain architecture (fewer gearbox stages)
  • Elimination of gearbox – direct drive

— Fleet Management

  • Condition-based maintenance solutions (CBMS) as seen in the Aerospace / Defense industry today

Performance Optimization – optimal energy production regardless of prevailing conditions

  • Max energy all the time
  • Derate / Uprate
  • Integration of turbine controls with the Condition Monitoring System (CMS)
  • Determine component remaining useful life and optimal turbine operating procedures
  • Blade aero / structural performance

Grid Friendly – requirements as identified by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and other regulatory agencies to ensure wind turbines operate much like conventional energy plants today, where output can be throttled and grid fluctuations can be absorbed, etc.

  • Variable speed control with the use of synchronous generator vs. induction
  • Low voltage ride-through (LVRT)
  • Energy storage

— Size and Transportability

  • Sectional components
  • On-site assembly procedures while maintaining component quality/integrity

Whatever the future may hold, the promise of clean energy is here. Innovation continues to drive change.

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