wind turbines, rotor rotation speed, tip speed, energy


For utility-scale wind turbines, the maximum rotor rotation speed is generally constrained by noise considerations. Innovations in acoustics and/or siting in remote locations may enable future wind turbine designs to operate with higher tip speeds. Wind turbines designed to take advantage of higher tip speeds are expected to be able to capture more energy and utilize lighter drivetrains because of their decreased maximum torque loads. However, the magnitude of the potential cost savings is unclear, and the potential trade-offs with rotor and tower sizing are not well understood. A multidisciplinary, system-level framework was developed to facilitate wind turbine and wind plant analysis and optimization. The rotors, nacelles, and towers of wind turbines are optimized for minimum cost of energy subject to a large number of structural, manufacturing, and transportation constraints. These optimization studies suggest that allowing for higher maximum tip speeds could result in a decrease in the cost of energy of up to 5% for land-based sites and 2% for offshore sites when using current technology. Almost all of the cost savings are attributed to the decrease in gearbox mass as a consequence of the reduced maximum rotor torque. Although there is some increased energy capture, it is very minimal (less than 0.5%). Extreme increases in tip speed are unnecessary; benefits for maximum tip speeds greater than 100-110 m/s are small to nonexistent.

Original Publication Citation

Ning, A., and Dykes, K., “Understanding the Benefits and Limitations of Increasing Maximum Rotor Tip Speed for Utility-Scale Wind Turbines,” Journal of Physics: Conference Series, Vol. 524, No. 012087, The Science of Making Torque from Wind, Jun. 2014. doi:10.1088/1742-6596/524/1/012087

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Permanent URL


IOP Publishing




Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology


Mechanical Engineering