Power conversion specialist Converteam and SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy) have entered into an agreement to jointly develop innovative fully direct current (DC) technologies to reduce total cost of ownership of offshore wind power generation and distribution by 10-20%.
The partners aim to demonstrate the benefits of Converteam’s advanced DC technologies (4) in the reduction of capital and operating costs, coupled with a higher energy production from a given array of offshore wind turbines. With support from the UK government’s Environmental Transformation Fund, a PMG (Permanent Magnet Generator) version of Converteam’s proprietary Active Stator (5) generator technology will be created to form a full-scale test facility which will be exposed to the worst case dynamic conditions identified by SSE.
Earlier in 2010, on the occasion of announcing a £1M development grant in support of the development, Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, Chris Huhne, said: "The UK has a wealth of natural resource and coastlines for offshore wind energy. We are already world leaders in building offshore wind farms and in their associated technologies but we must do much, much more. These investments can help our own businesses reap the benefits of renewable energy and help reduce electricity costs to consumers."
Once proven, early 2012, the technology will be manufactured at Converteam factories in Scotland and in England, providing upto an additional 200 skilled and professional jobs in wind power generation and conversion. While initially targeted at The Crown Estate Round 3 (1) offshore wind sites, the technology is applicable to all utility-scale wind power generation, and is expected to spread throughout the global offshore and onshore renewables sector.
In the first stage of proving, savings in the size of the generating plant will be made, and the electricity will be generated in a highly reliable, highly efficient form for low cost collection. Three further development stages are planned, during which a wind industry version of Converteam’s DC Architecture will be introduced to the testing and demonstration programme prior to its deployment in field trials (2). Each development stage will target further reductions in the size and capital cost of the power network, with corresponding further improvements in overall availability and efficiency of the grid system (3).
Steve Raynor, Converteam Senior Vice-President Northern Europe said: “The advent of the offshore wind power station demands innovation from the whole supplier base. Converteam have supported SSE for many years, as they researched the implications of higher renewables penetration, and are delighted to be co-operating with SSE on this game-changing technological development which will contribute significantly to affordable offshore wind power.”
SSE Director of Offshore Renewables, Jim Smith said: “SSE is committed to becoming a major participant in the offshore wind market. Our projects and our success in securing development rights from The Crown Estate underline this, and our investments in research show that we are at the forefront in the creation of the right technology. We believe that this agreement with Converteam is a further significant step towards achieving our ambitious business objectives.