This paper investigates the possibilities of viable power electronics converters, semiconductor switching devices and electric machines for 10 MW variable-speed wind turbine generators. The maximum rated power of existing wind turbine configurations is in the range of 6 MW. The proposed alternatives are compared against several technical and economical factors, and their advantages over the present wind turbines are highlighted. A comprehensive performance comparison of modern power semiconductor devices, their electrical characteristics and the key differentiators among them are presented. The power electronics converters considered include all commercially available multilevel voltage source and current source converters as well as the opportunities offered by power electronics building block-based design. The factors used for the comparison include the converter power range, capacitor voltage balancing, common mode voltage and current, electromagnetic interference emissions, fault ride-through capability, reliability, footprint, harmonic performance, efficiency and losses, component count, risk of torsional vibration by the harmonics and inter-harmonics, complexity, ease of back-to-back operation and filtering requirements. For the electric machines, this study concentrates on high-temperature superconducting machines, multi-phase induction machines and permanent magnet synchronous machines. These machines are compared against existing wind generator technologies in terms of their power range, torque density, efficiency, fault ride-through capability, reliability, footprint, harmonic performance, ease of fault detection, excitation control, noise and vibration signature, oscillation damping, gearbox requirement, cost and the size of the associated converter. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.