BLOCK ISLAND - MASSIVE MAGNETS TO POWER THE US
MASSIVE MAGNET WILL GENERATE POWER FOR AMERICAS FIRST OFFSHORE WINDFARM
Offshore wind farms may be more productive than their onshore counterparts, but they do come with some issues that you don’t see on land. They’re harder to build and maintain, for instance—but thanks to some inventive GE engineers, that may not always be the case.
Traditionally, when something goes wrong at an offshore wind site, maintenance time can be affected by a variety of weather issues, sometimes being delayed for days or even weeks. Costs for support vessels can approach $10,000 a day, and sourcing offshore wind power parts can add to the already long delay.
A KEY DESIGN FEATURE
With the need for redundancy and easy maintenance in mind, engineers at GE’s Power Conversion business in France have designed a new kind of direct-drive generator for offshore wind farms, equipped with a permanent magnetic rotor.
This magnetic rotor design eliminates the gearbox and reduces the number of moving parts that could potentially cause a wind turbine to break; additionally, it splits the drive train into three electrical channels that operate independently. So, even if two of the channels go offline, the offshore wind turbine can still operate on the remaining channel. This paired with GE’s wind turbine software adds efficiency and reliability to these rotor generators out at sea.
“Our direct-drive technology mitigates the main risk to the reliability of a wind turbine — the gearbox,” says Frederic Maenhaut, a renewables executive at GE Power Conversion. “When it comes to maintenance costs, that makes a big difference. We developed it to be ideal for an offshore setting.”
The new magnetic rotors will be made in the Saint Nazaire facility in France, at the same plant that manufactures the massive GE Haliade wind turbines, and will be included as part of the Block Island wind farm—America’s first offshore wind farm.
Read the full story on GE Reports.