CORDIS - EU research results

SWITLER:Small WInd Turbine Lightwight Efficient generatorR

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SWITLER (SWITLER:Small WInd Turbine Lightwight Efficient generatorR)

Reporting period: 2016-02-01 to 2016-05-31

Various wind turbine generator concepts have been developed during the last two decades: the geared generator (with ca. 80% share of the installations worldwide) and the gearless or direct-drive. The geared generator has the advantages in terms of the cost, size, and weight. However, the direct-drive generator, especially direct-drive permanent magnet (PM) machine, is superior in terms of the energy yield, reliability, simple and robust design, and lowest maintenance demand.
Founded in 2012 in Ashkelon (Israel), EVR Motors Ltd. is the result of a well-established partnership between technical and business experts being at present a company leader in the market of direct-drive generators for many applications. EVR Motors has developed SWITLER technology (patent in process of approval) to gain market share in the small wind industry of direct-drive technology.
In the EU, the small wind turbine (SWT) market is expected to rise to €2,517 million by 2020, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 22%, mainly driven by the governmental incentives and the growing awareness of end users: let alone fossil fuels, rising energy costs, and energy independence. SWTs can also bring the benefits of power production to homes, villages, and industries that may be remote from an established grid or wish to operate without burning fossil fuels. This global off-grid market is expected to reach €6,423.2 million by 2019, at a CAGR of 17.8% from 2014 to 2019.
SWITLER is a novel direct drive lightweight generator of variable RPM (revolutions per minute) input sources, based on a unique design of an ironless rotor permanent magnetic (PM) machine of transverse flux technology (IRTFPM), which enables the use of magnets in the generator from both sides, removing entirely the iron from the rotor, thus having a ca. 50% lighter design. With an efficiency of up to 96%, SWITLER is a gearless direct drive generator with improved acceleration rate and constant efficiency at variable speeds, reducing purchasing costs up to 56% with respect to market leaders.
SWITLER is at a technology readiness level (TRL) 6 stage of development. The overall aim of the project is to take the technology to TRL9 and to commercialize it pursuing compliance with IEC standards for small wind turbines. EVR Motors has the ambition of penetrating the small wind energy market by selling SWITLER to SWT manufacturing companies as a lightweight, high-efficient, and cost-competitive direct drive generator solution.
Work performed during the reporting period has been carried out from February to May 2016, covering the following tasks to assess the technical, commercial, and financial viability of SWITLER.
- Task 1: An analysis of current small wind turbine topology (geared and gearless generator systems) has been done to evaluate customer needs and then, upgrade design of our generator in order to scale our prototypes and adapt its manufacturing and assembly from a manual to an automatic process. This includes the update of the technical documentation, the conducting of computer simulations to improve design performance and reduce cost, and in-house testing. We have established initial contact with certification bodies to be subcontracted for the certification of SWITLER with IEC standards for small wind turbines (DNV-GL, DEWI, IEC, and TÜV Rheinland).
- Task 2: A thorough research of SWITLER target market has been performed analyzing the Israeli and EU small wind energy industry in the UK, Italy, Poland, Germany, and Spain, including market capacity and growth, supporting measures, and legislation. Also an analysis of the segmentation of the market and competing solutions in the target markets while emphasizing SWITLER competitive advantages (lightweight, high efficiency, cost-competitiveness, and the impact of our generator in the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) of the wind turbine) has been done. An analysis of SWITLER value chain as well as identification of potential stakeholders (i.e. SWT manufacturers, suppliers of components, outsourcing manufacturers) in the small wind energy sector to further establish commercial agreements has been carried out. A deep intellectual property and regulations analysis (IPR) have been performed to assess SWITLER freedom-to-operate status and potential upgrade of the current patent. Finally, we have validated the selling price of the generator through a cost revision of the components.
- Task 3: The financial assessment of SWITLER set the business margins for entering the market of small wind energy, considering the first sales activity by early 2019 and a forecast of sales and benefits until 2023. This task also includes the evaluation of the project risks with mitigation/contingency plans have been done from a technical, commercial, and financial perspective.
- Task 4: A business plan has been updated to include the SWITLER marketing strategy in line with the current state and future commercial plans of the project.
Wind power as a substitute to burning fossil fuels, is abundant, renewable, widely distributed, clean, produces no greenhouse gas radiations during operation, and uses little land. With the accelerating electricity consumption and increasing threat from the green-house effect and consequential environmental degradation, all EU countries are stepping forward into the reduction of energy consumption and loss of energy. While onshore wind is an economical source of electricity, competitive with or in many places inexpensive than coal or gas plants, offshore wind is securer and stronger than on land, but construction and maintenance costs are considerably higher. However, key industry challenges such as difficulty in erection, inconvenience in maintenance, transmission costs, durability, and environmental concerns have turned the trends towards the small onshore wind farms that can nourish some energy into the grid or provide electricity to isolated off-grid locations. All these goals have created a business opportunity that EVR Motors is meant to exploit with SWITLER. Our direct-drive generator of novel technology will lower the nacelle weight by at least 30%, while increasing its capacity factor by 10% up to 40%, and reducing the drive (no gearbox failures) and installation (ca. 20%) costs, all at a very competitive cost.
Our SWITLER project will boost the commercialization of an innovative gearless direct-drive generator for use in small wind turbines based on an ironless rotor permanent magnetic system of transverse flux technology suitable for variable RPM (revolutions per minute) input sources of very high efficiency (up to 96% at the entire operational range of the SWT) and very low weight (ca. 50% lighter than current machines).
On completion of the SWITLER project, we will industrialize the manufacturing process of our direct-drive generator. Then, SWITLER begins to gain traction in the market, enters the production cycle early 2019, initially for installations in Israel, and shortly afterwards for market expansion to the UK, Italy, Denmark, Poland, Germany, and Spain (EU countries with the highest growth for the small wind industry offering attractive FITs or a significant quota) satisfying demand from future customers. For that market launch, we are working towards commercialization agreements with small wind turbine manufacturers in Europe such as Ergycon and Sea Power in Italy, Xant, and EoWind in Belgium.