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Evaluation and Development of Wind Turbine Generator Technologies

Final Report Summary - EDWTGT (Evaluation and Development of Wind Turbine Generator Technologies)

Renewable energy is playing a critical role in the establishment of an environmentally sustainable low carbon economy. It has been widely recognised as a growth area, and thus included in the “Energy” theme of the FP7 as a core component for research and technological development. However, the uptake of renewable power generation is hampered by the high costs involved. There is a pressing need to continually reduce costs and the use of rare earth materials while improving system performance, energy efficiency, maintainability and fault-tolerance. At this moment of time, wind energy is firmly in the spotlight because it is the only feasible source of renewable energy to be utilised economically in large quantities. In the latest proposal of Horizon 2020, wind energy is placed as one of the priority areas for development with a target to reduce the cost of electricity production of onshore and offshore wind by up to about 20% by 2020 compared to 2010. The European Wind Energy Technology Platform (TPWind) has been established to support collaborative research between EU member states via the European Wind Initiative (EWI). Given sufficient support, wind energy could provide up to 34% of EU electricity by 2030. However, one crucial issue lies in the wind turbine generator technology. There is no consensus amongst the academic or industrial communities on the best wind turbine generator technology. Traditionally, medium and large wind turbines use doubly-fed induction generators (DFIGs) whilst permanent magnet (PM) machines and reluctance machines have been researched for decades and have been gradually penetrating into the wind turbine market. Recently, high-temperature superconducting (HTS) machines have been attracting much attention for wind turbine applications. However, these technologies have their own advantages and drawbacks, and they have not yet been fully developed nor well compared in terms of the suitability, integration and economy for large scale wind power generation. The choice of wind turbine generator technologies would be complicated when incorporating different mechanical drive systems, power electronics and control topologies, and when used in offshore harsh environments.

This project is a collaborative scheme of research exchanges and networking to address the suitability of different wind generation technologies. It brings together leading scientists and engineers in the UK, Italy and China, supported by their funding bodies and industrial partners. The consortium includes five members with complementary research experiences and strengths in wind turbine generation technologies. Queen’s University has extensive expertise in developing induction, reluctance and PM machines with various modelling and design tools and a wide-range of high-precision experiential and testing facilities. University of Sheffield has a long history of developing PM machines for various applications and has close links with wind turbine manufacturing industry. University of Cassino specialises in the design and prototyping of induction and superconducting machines. Zhejiang University has one of top Chinese engineering schools and has expertise in electrical machines, power electronics and machine control. Shenyang University of Technology specialises in wind turbine generators and has been involved in developing China’s largest PM and reluctance wind turbine generators. This exchange program is built around the work packages to develop wind turbine generator topologies, numerical and analytical models, control and optimisation algorithms, prototyping and experimental tools, condition monitoring and fault-ride-through techniques. The project is composed of five targeted research strands (i.e. induction, permanent magnet, reluctance, superconducting generator technologies and an overall evaluation of the differing technology options) undertaken by key researchers, supplemented and supported by their professors, researchers and industrial partners. The exchanges enable the reciprocal transfer of knowledge and technology between the members of the consortium and have been deployed by a set of various activities including periodical meetings, workshops and seminars, individual visits, training and public lectures. These forums are also open to external stakeholders and the members’ industrial partners. The outcomes of the project have been disseminated in high-quality IEEE/IET journals and major international conferences, as well as patents and grant applications. Outcomes are also shown to be useful to wind turbine manufacturers, standard making bodies and policy makers.