Turbines of the year 2018: Drivetrains

The sector is adapating to higher-rated turbines and changing grid demands.

Breakthrough… EcoSwing’s high-temperature superconductor is now operating in a 3.6MW Envision modular demonstration turbine in Denmark
Breakthrough… EcoSwing’s high-temperature superconductor is now operating in a 3.6MW Envision modular demonstration turbine in Denmark

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MEDAL WINNER

GOLD EcoSwing superconductor

Superconductors conduct electricity almost without resistance, offering an energy-efficient alternative to copper.

Vastly reduced material usage has contributed to making superconducting technology competitive with conventional electric machines.

The EcoSwing high-temperature superconductor (HTS) is the outcome of an EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation support programme, a four-year project that lasts until March 2019, with nine partners from five countries.

German engineering consultancy ECO 5 is responsible for the generator design, for which it claims a 40% mass reduction compared with PMGs.

The HTS generator is now incorporated in a 3.6MW direct-drive Envision "modular demonstration turbine" in Denmark.

Installed in 2012, it features a two-blade upwind rotor with partial-pitch control and a PMG behind the tower connected via a composite torque shaft. The layout enables "uncomplicated generator switching".

The exchange process involved installed power conversion and refrigeration equipment for cooling EcoSwing 40 superconducting rotor poles to -243oC with rotating cryocoolers and compressors.

The conventional outer stator consists of high-density copper coils.

The goal is to prove that a superconducting drivetrain is cost competitive with a conventional PMG- type generator in real-life generation.

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