Some time ago, EcoSwing consortium specialists completed the design, development and production of the first full-sized generator with superconducting rotor windings, intended for use on a wind generator with a capacity of 3.6 MW. After that, the generator was installed on a turbine located near the village of Tyuborin, Denmark, where it successfully passed the field test program.
The need to use new technologies and innovative solutions in the field of wind energy is due to the fact that the size and power of generators have been constantly increasing over the past few decades. And the technologies available today cannot fundamentally provide the necessary levels of current density, and, as a consequence, the power and efficiency of generator turbines.
Permanent magnet direct drive generators (PM-DD) are one of the most suitable options for creating 10+ MW turbines. However, for the practical use of such generators, a drastic reduction in their weight is required. Pseudomagnetic direct drive (PDD) machines are another possible solution, but such machines are extremely complex and, as a result, expensive to manufacture.
To create the superconducting elements of the rotor of the new generator, EcoSwing specialists used a material based on rare-earth barium copper oxide (ReBCO), which is one of the high-temperature superconductors. The design of such a generator uses fewer expensive materials based on rare-earth elements, which positively affects the cost of the final product. The superconducting material withstands high currents at a higher operating voltage, which reduces the size and weight of the coils of the rotor windings.
The first field test of the superconducting generator was extremely successful. After installation, the turbine was quickly brought to its rated power, after which it was included in the general energy network and worked for 650 hours in this mode. This all demonstrates the compatibility of superconducting technologies with the current realities of wind energy systems, such as variable wind speeds, electromagnetic harmonics and voltage fluctuations arising in networks.
Another achievement was that the rotor of the superconducting generator was manufactured and assembled not at all in laboratory conditions, but at a specialized industrial enterprise, where standard factory equipment was used and “standard” production conditions were present. And this allows us to hope that the technologies of superconducting generators will begin to be used in the field of wind energy in the very near future.