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  • DONG A/S, Denmark

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The generator is one of the critical components in a wind turbine. This will become even more true in the future direct drive wind turbines, where the component count has been reduced by 50%. The generator in a wind turbine is the place where mechanical power of the turbine rotor is converted into electrical power. It is therefore extremely important to utilise the generator optimally, such that maximum power can be extracted from the wind without exceeding the thermal limits of the generator. Overheating of the generator will lead to a shortened lifetime and hence a less economical wind turbine. In the worst case, overheating could result in instantaneous failure of the generator. Overheating is typically caused by either overloading of the generator or by large currents during faults.

Many of the wind turbine manufacturers are going towards permanent magnet generators. This includes Vestas with their V112 model and Siemens Wind Power with their SWP 3.0 101 model and their recently announced 6MW model. Overheating in a permanent magnet generator could result in demagnetisation of the permanent magnets which cannot be repaired onsite. Furthermore if the generator is a direct drive generator incorporated into the nacelle structure, then the entire rotor (blades and hub) as well as most of the nacelle would have to be removed during repairs. The generator in a permanent magnet direct drive wind turbine is therefore one of the most critical components, and should have maximum protection against overheating at any given time.

The purpose of this project is to develop thermal models for wind turbine generators, based on which a non-intrusive condition monitoring scheme, using thermal imaging, will be proposed. The thermal models will be developed using both thermal networks and finite element analysis, and will be validated against a prototype previously built at Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. Both transient and steady state conditions will be modelled. In this way the proposed condition monitoring scheme, which uses the developed models as a reference, will be able to give control action to the wind turbine. This control action will ensure that the wind turbine can be optimally loaded during normal operation and thermally protected during faults. The expected outcome is that validated thermal models will have been developed, that can be used as a reference in a non-intrusive continuous condition monitoring scheme using thermal imaging. Such a condition monitoring scheme would ensure that the wind turbine is protected against overheating during faults, but would also allow temporary overloading of the generator with monitored temperatures to avoid overheating.

The work in this project will therefore lay the foundations for a continuous condition monitoring scheme, which will increase the power extraction from the wind, without exceeding the thermal limits of the generator, and increase the lifetime of the wind turbine, by ensuring the thermal limits are not exceeded.

The intention is to include master students in this project, such that they can experience research lead teaching in the area of electrical machines. Such students could work with thermal models and see these validated against experimental measurements.
StatusCompleted
Period01/12/1001/12/11
Financing sourcePublic research programme (public)
Research programmePSO
Amount918,000.00 Danish kroner
Approval year2010
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