Wind Energy Electrical Power Generation Industry Life Cycle - Impact of Modern Materials Systems on Economic Viability
This study addresses past, current and future development of the wind electrical power industry, that began prior to 1890 in Cleveland, Ohio and Askov, Denmark. Overcoming technological, business, societal and political hurdles required approximately 120 years of exploration to establish wind electricity generation as a radical innovation entering the acceleration stage of the industrial technology life cycle. Materials and integrated materials systems featuring mechanical, structural, fluid dynamic, electrical, electronic, and telecommunications functionality developed and introduced over that period have contributed uniquely to current commercial viability of wind turbine electrical power generation. Further growth and maturation is expected to continue to ≈ 2100, corresponding to a life cycle of ≅ 210 years. This finding has profound implications for radical innovation theory and practice, since historical analysis attributes a 50-60 year life cycle for 5 industrial revolutions, and emerging theory anticipates acceleration of radical innovation, as discussed in companion papers in this conference. Rapid growth in installed capacity of large scale wind turbines (>1MW) now positions wind electrical power generation in the Acceleration Stage, characterized by market competition between dominant wind turbine designs and societal acceptance by wind energy communities of practice in Europe, North America and Asia. Technical cost model based learning curve projections of Cost of Electricity (COE) suggest that by 2020 COE from wind will be competitive, without tax incentives, with electricity from conventional fossil and nuclear fuel sources. Capture by wind energy of up to 20% of the world electricity market appears likely by the end of the 21st Century.
J. A. Sekhar and J. P. Dismukes
J. P. Dismukes et al., "Wind Energy Electrical Power Generation Industry Life Cycle - Impact of Modern Materials Systems on Economic Viability", Key Engineering Materials, Vol. 380, pp. 43-65, 2008