The project aims to increase the understanding of wind turbine generator reliability, relating particularly to reliability of direct-drive and medium speed wind turbine concepts. This important research will support the development of innovative wind turbine generator technology as a solution to the huge market for offshore wind generation.
The rapid growth of the global wind energy industry is encouraging the development of alternative concepts for wind turbine drivetrains, one of which is the use of direct-drive and medium speed generators. However, if direct-drive machines are to become a key supplier of low carbon energy to the UK, research into the effectiveness and reliability of this technology is vital and assessments must be made of direct-drive's ability to meet the demands of off-shore sites, where reliability and availability are of crucial importance.
"As leading global experts in wind turbine gearbox, bearing and drivetrain design and analysis, Romax is pleased to be collaborating with researchers in the Electrical Machines and Drives Research Group at The University of Sheffield. The NWIP funding will enable our consortium to establish valuable knowledge and expertise in the UK, assist in the development of new generation wind turbines and support the development of beneficial relationships between industrial and academic partners in the UK," explained Dr John Coultate, Drivetrain Consultancy Team Leader at Romax Technology Ltd
Currently, the interaction between wind turbine main shaft loads, magnetic loads in the generator and generator bearing behaviour is not well understood but it can have a significant effect on generator reliability. Existing techniques for analysing generator bearing loads rely on very large multi-physics models. There is a need in the industry for a fast, validated method to calculate generator behaviour and predict the life of generator bearings based on actual wind turbine load cases.
In this project, Romax and the researchers at The University of Sheffield aim to develop a new and innovative technique that can be applied directly to the design and analysis of wind turbine generators, from high speed (conventional) wind turbine generators to medium speed and low speed (direct-drive) concepts.
This knowledge, along with the techniques acquired through the project, will allow businesses to expand into the sector of direct-drive and medium speed wind turbine bearings. It will also provide insight into increasing the reliability of conventional high speed generators.
"Funding provided by NWIP is allowing companies like Romax to advance the deployment of innovative wind energy technology into the sector and has the potential to create jobs and commercial opportunities for the UK engineering industry. It could also greatly improve the reliability of wind turbine generators and benefit the supply of next generation UK offshore wind turbines," concluded Dr Coultate.