Larger and More Efficient Wind Turbines

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

The development of larger and more efficient wind turbines is a key trend in the wind energy sector, driven by the need to increase energy production, reduce costs, and improve the competitiveness of wind power. These larger turbines can capture more wind energy and generate more electricity, making them particularly suitable for offshore wind farms and other locations with strong and consistent wind resources.

Impact on climate action

Larger and More Efficient Wind Turbines in Wind Power revolutionize climate action by maximizing energy generation potential. By harnessing stronger winds at higher altitudes and incorporating advanced technologies, these turbines increase renewable energy output, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon energy system, mitigating climate change.


  • Rotor Diameter and Blade Design: Increasing the rotor diameter allows turbines to capture more wind energy. Advanced blade designs, such as longer and more aerodynamic blades, improve efficiency and reduce noise.
  • Generator Technology: Larger turbines require more powerful generators to convert the mechanical energy from the rotating blades into electricity. Innovations in generator technology, such as permanent magnet generators and superconducting generators, are improving efficiency and reliability.
  • Control Systems: Advanced control systems optimize turbine operation based on wind conditions and grid requirements, maximizing energy production and ensuring grid stability.
  • Materials and Manufacturing: Larger turbines require stronger and lighter materials, such as composites and advanced steels, to withstand the increased loads and stresses. Innovations in manufacturing processes are also crucial for producing larger turbine components cost-effectively.

TRL : 7-8

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Offshore Wind Turbines: Offshore wind turbines are designed to withstand harsh marine environments and capture the strong and consistent winds available at sea. These turbines are typically larger and more powerful than onshore turbines.
  • Direct-Drive Turbines: Direct-drive turbines eliminate the gearbox, which is a complex and maintenance-intensive component in traditional wind turbines. This design simplifies the turbine and improves reliability.
  • Floating Wind Turbines: Floating wind turbines are mounted on floating platforms, allowing for wind energy generation in deeper waters where traditional fixed-bottom turbines are not feasible.
  • Vertical-Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs): VAWTs have a different design than traditional horizontal-axis wind turbines (HAWTs) and can offer advantages in certain applications, such as urban environments and offshore wind farms.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Advancements in Wind Turbine Rotor Diameter and Blade Design
  • Optimization of Wind Turbine Control Systems
  • Direct-Drive Wind Turbines
  • Maximized Rotor Diameter
  • Aerodynamic Blade Evolution
  • Lightweight Materials Revolution
  • Offshore Boundary Expansion
  • Gearbox-Free Solutions
  • Vertical Axis Redefinition
  • Harsh Environment Engineering
  • Sustainable Turbine Manufacturing
  • Composite Component Solutions
  • Precision Turbine Engineering
  • Precision Aerodynamics
  • Turbulence Management

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Principle Power:
    • Technology Enhancement: Principle Power specializes in floating offshore wind turbine technology. Their WindFloat platform allows for the installation of larger and more efficient wind turbines in deep waters where traditional fixed-bottom foundations are not feasible. By utilizing floating platforms, Principle Power enables the deployment of wind turbines in offshore locations with abundant wind resources, optimizing energy production and reducing costs.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Principle Power stands out for its innovative approach to offshore wind energy, particularly in deepwater environments. Their floating wind turbine technology opens up new opportunities for offshore wind development, allowing for the deployment of turbines in areas previously considered inaccessible. This enables the exploitation of offshore wind resources in regions with favorable wind conditions but challenging seabed conditions.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Principle Power serves energy companies, project developers, and governments seeking to harness offshore wind resources for renewable energy generation. Their technology is particularly well-suited for deepwater offshore wind projects, including those located far from shore or in areas with deep seabeds.
  • Xodus Group:
    • Technology Enhancement: Xodus Group offers engineering and consultancy services for the offshore energy industry, including wind energy projects. They specialize in providing expertise in the design, development, and optimization of offshore wind turbine systems. By leveraging advanced engineering techniques and computational modeling, Xodus Group helps optimize the performance and efficiency of wind turbines, making them larger and more cost-effective.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Xodus Group stands out for its multidisciplinary approach to offshore wind energy, combining expertise in engineering, environmental assessment, and project management. Their focus on innovation and collaboration enables them to deliver tailored solutions for offshore wind projects, addressing technical challenges and maximizing value for clients.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Xodus Group serves a diverse range of stakeholders involved in offshore wind projects, including developers, operators, investors, and regulatory authorities. Their services support the entire project lifecycle, from feasibility studies and design optimization to operational support and decommissioning.
  • SeaTwirl:
    • Technology Enhancement: SeaTwirl specializes in vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) technology for offshore and onshore wind energy applications. Their unique turbine design features a vertical axis rotor with a rotating tower, allowing for simpler and more robust wind energy capture. SeaTwirl’s technology offers advantages in terms of scalability, efficiency, and maintenance compared to traditional horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWTs).
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: SeaTwirl stands out for its innovative approach to wind turbine design, particularly with its vertical axis configuration. Their technology addresses some of the limitations of conventional HAWTs, such as the need for complex yaw systems and high tower structures. SeaTwirl’s VAWT design is well-suited for offshore applications, where reliability and ease of maintenance are crucial.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: SeaTwirl targets offshore wind developers, utilities, and renewable energy investors looking for innovative and reliable wind turbine solutions. Their technology offers advantages in terms of installation, operation, and maintenance, making it attractive for offshore wind projects in challenging environments.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • Technical University of Denmark (DTU):
    • Research Focus: DTU is at the forefront of research on integrating solar thermal energy systems with smart grids, focusing on developing advanced control algorithms, system modeling techniques, and optimization strategies to enhance the synergy between solar thermal generation, energy storage, and grid management.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the development of integrated solar thermal-electric power plants, hybrid solar-wind systems, and district heating networks with smart grid functionalities. They also investigate the integration of thermal energy storage, demand-side management, and grid-responsive technologies to improve the flexibility, reliability, and efficiency of renewable energy integration.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in district heating networks, industrial process heat, and renewable energy microgrids. By leveraging solar thermal energy and smart grid technologies, DTU’s research supports the transition to a sustainable energy system, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Delft University of Technology (TU Delft):
    • Research Focus: TU Delft conducts innovative research on the integration of solar thermal energy with smart grids, leveraging its expertise in energy systems engineering, control theory, and renewable energy integration to develop novel approaches for optimizing the performance and grid integration of solar thermal systems.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the development of advanced control strategies, predictive modeling techniques, and distributed energy management systems for coordinating solar thermal generation, energy storage, and demand response in smart grid environments. They also explore the integration of solar thermal collectors with heat pumps, absorption chillers, and thermal energy storage technologies to enhance system flexibility and resilience.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in building heating and cooling, industrial process heat, and renewable district heating. By integrating solar thermal energy with smart grids, TU Delft’s research contributes to reducing energy costs, improving energy efficiency, and enhancing the overall sustainability of urban energy systems.
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL):
    • Research Focus: NREL conducts cutting-edge research on the integration of solar thermal energy with smart grids, leveraging its expertise in renewable energy technologies, grid integration, and energy policy to address technical, economic, and regulatory challenges associated with solar thermal deployment.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the development of techno-economic models, grid simulation tools, and policy frameworks for assessing the potential impact of solar thermal integration on grid stability, reliability, and energy market dynamics. They also collaborate with industry partners to demonstrate innovative solar thermal technologies, testbeds, and pilot projects in real-world settings.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in utility-scale solar thermal power plants, industrial process heat, and renewable heating and cooling systems. By advancing the integration of solar thermal energy with smart grids, NREL’s research supports the transition to a clean, resilient, and equitable energy future, fostering economic growth and environmental sustainability.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Larger and more efficient wind turbines are being increasingly deployed in wind farms around the world, both onshore and offshore. For example, GE Renewable Energy’s Haliade-X is one of the largest and most powerful offshore wind turbines in operation, with a capacity of 12-14 MW.