Trends in Wind Turbine Generator Systems

Henk Polinder, Jan Abraham Ferreira, Bogi Bech Jensen, Asger Bech Abrahamsen, Kais Atallah, Richard A. McMahon

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This paper reviews the trends in wind turbine generator systems. After discussing some important requirements and basic relations, it describes the currently used systems: the constant speed system with squirrel-cage induction generator, and the three variable speed systems with doubly fed induction generator (DFIG), with gearbox and fully rated converter, and direct drive (DD). Then, possible future generator systems are reviewed. Hydraulic transmissions are significantly lighter than gearboxes and enable continuously variable transmission, but their efficiency is lower. A brushless DFIG is a medium speed generator without brushes and with improved low-voltage ride-through characteristics compared with the DFIG. Magnetic pseudo DDs are smaller and lighter than DD generators, but need a sufficiently low and stable magnet price to be successful. In addition, superconducting generators can be smaller and lighter than normal DD generators, but both cost and reliability need experimental demonstration. In power electronics, there is a trend toward reliable modular multilevel topologies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIEEE Journal of Emerging and Selected Topics in Power Electronics
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)174-185
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Direct-drive generators
  • Doubly fed induction generators (DFIGs)
  • Generator systems
  • Permanent magnet (PM) generators
  • Wind energy
  • Wind turbines


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