The Wind Turbine Rotors of the Future: A Research Agenda from the Big Adaptive Rotor Project

Pietro Bortolotti, Emmanuel Branlard, Anurag Gupta, Nick Johnson, Jason Jonkman, Patrick Moriarty, Joshua Paquette, Dave Snowberg, Paul Veers

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


This white paper outlines a roadmap to inform future research efforts around the wind turbine rotors of the future. The document is authored by researchers that have been working on the Big Adaptive Rotor (BAR) and related initiatives at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories. The Wind Energy Technologies Office of the U.S. Department of Energy has been funding BAR since 2018. The learnings from BAR have been documented in dozens of publications. This new paper identifies unresolved critical challenges in wind turbine rotor technology and structures them in four large topic areas: 1. Predictive and validated numerical tools. 2. Design methods and standards. 3. Improvements in manufacturing. 4. Technological innovations. Although wind turbines have not changed in their core architecture, with the market almost entirely dominated by three-bladed upwind rotors, a vast amount of research has allowed to introduce technological innovations resulting in a reduction in levelized cost of energy that made wind competitive with all traditional sources of electricity. Focusing on the rotor, blades will keep following the trend of mass and stiffness reduction, will adopt segmentation, and will keep growing in length, both land-based and offshore. To support this continuous innovation, this white paper argues that research efforts in rotor technology at the national labs are best directed to the first three topic areas and to low technology-readiness-levels (1-3) innovations, leaving the task of implementing higher-TRL (4-9) technological innovations to industry stakeholders. This research roadmap is also well aligned with the upcoming roadmap defined during the International Energy Agency 109th Topical Expert Meeting on the Grand Challenges of Wind Energy.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages31
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5000-86097


  • BAR
  • big adaptive rotor
  • land-based
  • offshore
  • technological innovations
  • wind turbine blade
  • wind turbine rotor


Dive into the research topics of 'The Wind Turbine Rotors of the Future: A Research Agenda from the Big Adaptive Rotor Project'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this