Wind is considered to be one of the most promising resources in the renewable energy portfolio. Still, to make wind energy conversion more economically viable, it is necessary to extract greater power from the wind while minimizing the cost associated with the technology. This is particularly important for small wind turbines, which have the highest cost per kilowatt of energy produced. One solution would be a variable ratio gearbox (VRG) that can be integrated into the simple and low-cost fixed-speed induction generator. Through discrete variable rotor speed operation, the VRG-enabled system affects the wind speed ratio, the power coefficient, and ultimately the power produced. To maximize electrical production, mechanical braking is applied during the normal operation of the wind turbine. A strategy is used to select gear ratios (GRs) that produce torque slightly above the maximum amount the generator can accept while simultaneously applying the mechanical brake, so that full load production may be realized over greater ranges of the wind speed. To characterize the performance of the system, a 100 kW, fixed speed, stall-regulated wind turbine, has been developed for this study. The VRG-enabled wind turbine control system is presented in two papers. Part 1 focuses on the turbine simulation model, which includes the rotor, VRG-enabled drivetrain, disk brake, and electric generator. A technique for estimating the performance of a disk brake, in the wind turbine context, is also presented. Part 2 of the research will present a dynamic optimization algorithm that is used to establish the control protocol for competing performance objectives.

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