A two-turbine installation completed last month for Basin Electric Cooperative at Minot, North Dakota, is proving that given the right technology, small increments of wind power can be connected to a weak distribution system without causing voltage problems. The 2.6 MW wind plant of Nordex turbines is equipped with a scaled-down version of American Superconductor Corporation's voltage regulating D-VAR system that is small enough to control voltage at local level. It provides dynamic volt-amps reactive (VAR) compensation to give more precise power control to protect the area's weak distribution system. FPL Energy and Basin Electric are building a 40 MW project near the site. American Superconductor teamed up with GE Industrial Systems in May 2002 to sell the company's first wind farm-sized D-VAR system for the 135 MW Foote Creek wind project in Wyoming (Windpower Monthly, June 2002). The D-VAR holds the voltage coming out of the wind farm stable within a limited band, even as the power output fluctuates, helping to integrate the facility into the local transmission system and also protecting gear boxes in some wind turbines. Like the Foote Creek project, the Nordex turbines at Minot also use capacitors to inject reactive power when voltage sags.
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Senior Renewable Energy Analyst (WindGEMINI Product Lead) DNV GL Bristol (City Centre), City of Bristol