Although decreases in the cost of energy from utility scale wind turbine generators has made them competitive with conventional forms of utility power generation, further reductions can increase the presence of wind energy in the global energy mix. The cost of energy from a wind turbine can be reduced by increasing the annual energy production, reducing the initial capital cost of the turbine, or doing both. In this study, the cost of energy is estimated for a theoretical 1.5 MW wind turbine utilizing a continuously variable ratio hydrostatic drive train between the rotor and the generator. The estimated cost of energy is then compared to that of a conventional wind turbine of equivalent rated power. The annual energy production is estimated for the theoretical hydrostatic turbine using an assumed wind speed distribution and a turbine power curve resulting from a steady state performance model of the turbine. The initial capital cost of the turbine is estimated using cost models developed for various components unique to the hydrostatic turbine as well as economic parameters and models developed by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) for their 2004 WindPACT advanced wind turbine drive train study. The resulting cost of energy, along with various performance characteristics of interest, are presented and compared to those of the WindPACT baseline turbine intended to represent a conventional utility scale wind turbine.

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