Wind Turbine Drivetrains: State-of-the-Art Technologies and Future Development Trends

Amir Nejad, Jonathan Keller, Yi Guo, Shawn Sheng, Henk Polinder, Simon Watson, Jianning Dong, Zian Qin, Amir Ebrahimi, Ralf Schelenz, Francisco Gutierrez Guzman, Daniel Cornel, Reza Golafshan, Georg Jacobs, Bart Blockmans, Jelle Bosmans, Bert Pluymers, James Carroll, Sofia Koukoura, Edward HartAlisdair McDonald, Anand Natarajan, Jone Torsvik, Farid Moghadam, Pieter-Jan Daems, Timothy Verstraeten, Cedric Peeters, Jan Helsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper presents the state-of-the-art technologies and development trends of wind turbine drivetrains – the energy conversion systems transferring the kinetic energy of the wind to electrical energy – in different stages of their life cycle: design, manufacturing, installation, operation, lifetime extension, decommissioning, and recycling. Offshore development and digitalization are also a focal point in this study. The main aim of this article is to review the drivetrain technology development as well as to identify future challenges and research gaps. Drivetrain in this context includes the whole power conversion system: main bearing, shafts, gearbox, generator, and power converter. The paper discusses current design technologies for each component along with advantages and disadvantages. The discussion of the operation phase highlights the condition monitoring methods currently employed by the industry as well as emerging areas. This article also illustrates the multidisciplinary aspect of wind turbine drivetrains, which emphasizes the need for more interdisciplinary research and collaboration.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages35
JournalWind Energy Science Discussions
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

See NREL/JA-5000-82406 for final paper as published in Wind Energy Science

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-80143


  • drivetrain
  • gearbox
  • generator
  • main bearing
  • power converter


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