EE551: Wind Energy

Mohamed A El-Sharkawi

Department of Electrical Engineering

University of Washington

Seattle, WA 98195

Course Summary

Although the world relies heavily on fossil fuel (coal, oil, and natural gas) for its ever-growing appetite for energy, the negative environmental impact of burning fossil fuel have encouraged engineers and scientists to develop reliable alternative energy resources. The efforts were accelerated in the 1970s when oil prices soared and many countries began investing in renewable energy, especially wind, through various programs that encourage the development and test of reliable systems. Tax credits, investments in research and development, subsidies, and developing favorable regulations are some of the various supports by governments to accelerate the development of wind energy technologies.


Wind is one of the oldest forms of energy known to man; it dates back more than 5,000 years when wind was used for transportation, irrigation, grinding and pumping of water. Nowadays, windmills are mostly used to generate electricity by converting the kinetic energy in the wind into electrical energy. The first wind turbine was built by the American inventor Charles F. Brush in 1888. It was just 12kW machine with enormous structure, but lasted for several years. The designs of wind turbines have improved substantially in the last two decades making them viable energy resources. The size of wind turbines has increased from just a few kW machines in the 1980ies to up to 8MW single unit system.


The wind energy systems have seen a substantial growth in European and the USA. This growth have led to a rapid change in the generation landscape because of the increasing penetration of wind energy systems and the emerging of several microgrids. These fundamental changes require the power grid to become more vibrant and interactive which will demand significant changes in the grid operation, protection and control.


This course covers the operation and modelling of the main types of wind energy systems. Several types of generators and converters used in energy systems are discussed and evaluated. The course also covers the main challenges to wind energy integration from the utility point of view. The impacts of wind energy on the power grid are discussed in details. Existing, as well as potential, solutions are presented. Field data are used to evaluate the current performance of the wind systems, and to identify the challenges, opportunities and solutions in this vibrant field.