A superconductive breakthrough for wind energy

The world's first superconducting wind turbine will be installed this year off the coast of Denmark - a landmark achievement by an EU-funded project that is set to revolutionise the wind-energy industry through the deployment of lighter, more cost efficient and more potent generators.

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


  Infocentre

Published: 29 August 2018  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
EnergyRenewable energy sources
Industrial researchMaterials & products
Innovation
Research policyHorizon 2020
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Denmark  |  France  |  Germany  |  Netherlands  |  United Kingdom
Add to PDF "basket"

A superconductive breakthrough for wind energy

Image

© Fokke #205346720, 2018 fotolia.com

Capable of producing more than three megawatts of electricity, enough to power a thousand homes, the two-bladed wind turbine will feature a unique high-temperature superconductor generator developed in the EU-funded ECOSWING project. Weighing 40 % less than conventional generators, the state-of-the-art machine requires fewer manufacturing resources and is more cost-effective to build, transport and install.

Already successfully tested in the lab, the field test on the turbine, which is operated by Envision Energy in Thyborøn, Denmark, will pave the way for the commercial deployment of a next generation of multi-megawatt turbines. This has the potential to open up new markets for wind power, supporting the global transition to renewable energy and ultimately lowering electricity costs.

The ECOSWING project, involving nine industrial and academic partners, represents a breakthrough in the application of high-temperature superconductor technology for wind turbine generators as a potential replacement for today’s heavy and costly permanent magnet direct-drive generators.

“The ECOSWING consortium has been successful in designing, developing and manufacturing the first full-scale multi-megawatt superconducting wind generator. This demonstration in a real-world operational environment will lay the foundations for a groundbreaking product that will change the way wind turbines operate and greatly expand the wind-energy sector,” says project communications manager Jürgen Kellers at ECO 5 in Germany.

Lighter, cheaper, cooler

Current generators work much like a traditional dynamo, with rotating magnets inside a set of copper coils. The rotation creates a variable magnetic field in the coils, which generates an electric current.

In the ECOSWING superconducting generator, the magnets are replaced by coils of ceramic-metallic tape that become superconductive under extremely cold conditions, achieved by containing the coils within a vacuum drum super-cooled with small amounts of cryogenic gas. At temperatures of around -240°C, about 30°C above absolute zero, electricity passes through the coils with almost no resistance, enabling energy flows 100 times greater than in standard generators.

The much lower resistance means that far less material, including valuable rare-earth metals, are required in a high-temperature superconducting generator compared to a traditional model to achieve the same energy output, resulting in substantial cost and weight reductions.

The same benefits will also allow wind turbines to be scaled up. The ECOSWING team envisions future superconductor generators producing 10MW or more, with the reduced weight and size of next-generation devices helping to overcome barriers from high construction, transportation and installation costs at both onshore and offshore wind farms.

In the wind

If the ECOSWING field test proves successful, that goal should be within reach in a matter of years. The project partners have already greatly advanced the technological and commercial readiness of many components, overcoming key challenges to the effective deployment of high-temperature superconducting technology in wind turbines subjected to harsh environmental conditions, vibrations and continuous unsupervised operation.

“We have improved and scaled up manufacturing capacity within this project for many new components. For example, ECOSWING has had a big impact on the quality and stability of high-temperature superconductor wire manufacturing capabilities, increasing production from metres to kilometres per week – a rate so far unmatched in Europe,” Kellers says.

“Each partner has been able to improve their individual product offerings, and together we have developed a groundbreaking product that is demonstrating a key enabling technology for renewable energy, one of Europe’s key growth markets.”

Project details

  • Project acronym: ECOSWING
  • Participants: Denmark (Coordinator), Germany, France, UK, Netherlands
  • Project N°: 656024
  • Total costs: € 13 846 593
  • EU contribution: € 10 591 733
  • Duration: March 2015 to April 2019

See also

 

Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected




loading
Print Version
Share this article
See also
Project website
Project details