Using a global approach, a wind hybrid system operation is simulated and the evolution of several parameters is analysed, such as the wasted energy, the fuel consumption and the role of the wind turbine subsystem in the global production. This analysis shows that all the energies which take part in the system operation are more dependent on the wind turbine size than on the battery storage capacity. A storage of 2 or 3 days is sufficient, because an increase in storage beyond these values does not have a notable impact on the performance of the wind hybrid system. Finally, a cost study is performed to determine the optimal configuration of the system conducive to the lowest cost of electricity production. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.