American Superconductor Corporation (AMSC), a global power technologies company, announced in conjunction with Global Wind Day 2010 on 15 June that it has achieved a significant milestone by supporting the production of more than 15,000 megawatts (MW) of wind power worldwide with its proprietary power electronic solutions.
This amount of zero-emission electricity is sufficient to power approximately 4.5 million US households and represents nearly 10% of the world’s 158,000 MW of wind power installed as of the end of 2009.
The fast-growing global wind industry continues to be the primary business driver for AMSC. We are providing proprietary wind turbine designs and production support services to more than a dozen customers in seven countries around the world, including 10 customers in the Asia Pacific region. Each wind turbine produced by these companies utilizes AMSC’s core electrical components and control systems, which serve as the brains of these power generation machines.
In addition, AMSC’s D-VAR grid interconnection technology, including our D-VAR RT low voltage ride through solution, is being utilized by more than 70 wind farms in seven countries worldwide to meet local grid interconnection requirements.
With nations around the world seeking to derive a greater percentage of their energy needs from renewable energy sources, we believe we have only begun to scratch the surface of the renewable energy grid interconnection market’s potential.
—AMSC founder and Chief Executive Officer Greg Yurek
Recent industry reports forecast further acceleration of wind turbine installations in 2010 and over the next decade in China and other Asian countries. Annual installations in China are expected to grow from approximately 14,000 MW in 2009 to 20,000 MW in 2011, Yurek said, adding that as a result of this rapid growth in China and the broader Asia-Pacific market, AMSC expects its overall wind-related businesses to continue to flourish going forward.
AMSC’s Wind Turbine Engineering and Power Electronics. AMSC Windtec, a wholly owned subsidiary of AMSC, designs a variety of megawatt-class wind turbines for use both onshore and offshore. AMSC Windtec then licenses those designs to manufacturers, provides extensive service and support through volume production, and then sells power electronics and control systems required for each wind turbine manufactured by its licensees. This business model enables new wind turbine manufacturers to begin commercial production in as little as 12 months.
Windtec technology transfer offers fully developed wind turbine designs including variable speed, pitch-controlled wind turbines with power ratings from 650 kW to 10 MW and larger. Drivetrain solutions in the product portfolio include:
- Double-fed drivetrain.
- Full-scale conversion drivetrain.
- SuperGEAR drive train. The SuperGEAR technology (patents pending) is Windtec’s latest technology. Specifically designed for offshore applications, it produces turbines that are more stable, efficient and reliable.
- HTS direct drivetrain. Ultra-low speed direct drive generators are in development in the 10 MW class using superconductor (HTS) wire technology. This unique AMSC Windtec solution will enable light weight, efficient and reliable large offshore wind turbines.
AMSC Windtec currently has more than a dozen customers around the world, including China’s Sinovel Wind Group Co., Ltd. (the world’s third largest wind turbine manufacturer); China’s Dongfang Turbine Co. Ltd. (the world’s ninth largest wind turbine manufacturer); and Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. (a Global 500 corporation).
Each of these customers are working with AMSC Windtec on multiple wind turbine platforms, and each of the wind turbines produced by these customers utilize power electronics and control systems produced by AMSC. To date, AMSC has shipped enough of these products to operate thousands of wind turbines with a total power capacity of more than 10,000 MW.
AMSC’s wind turbine power electronics and control systems include the company’s proprietary PowerModule power converters, pitch and yaw converters, SCADA systems and integrated control systems. They enable reliable, high-performance wind turbine operation by controlling power flows, regulating voltage, monitoring system performance, controlling the pitch of wind turbine blades and the yaw of the turbines to maximize efficiency.
AMSC’s Wind Farm Interconnection Systems. AMSC’s D-VAR solution is a Smart Grid system that provides dynamic voltage control, power factor correction and post-contingency reactive compensation to stabilize the power grid and prevent undesirable events such as voltage collapse. This product has become the de facto standard for connecting wind farms to power grids worldwide, AMSC says. AMSC’s D-VAR and D-VAR RT solutions are now being employed at more than 70 wind farms in seven countries worldwide that are capable of producing more than 5,000 MW of combined zero-emission electricity.
A number of countries and provinces around the world have imposed stringent interconnection requirements for wind farms that serve as a catalyst for AMSC’s sales. These countries include the United Kingdom, where AMSC’s D-VAR system is serving more than 10 wind farms, and Australia, where AMSC is helping to connect a third of the country’s wind power to the grid. In 2009, AMSC announced its first D-VAR system sale into China, the world’s largest installer of wind power, and the company has since received multiple follow-on orders in that market.
Global Wind Power Market. According to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), the global wind power installed base grew by 38,000 MW, or more than 30%, in 2009 to 158,505 MW. GWEC expects this installed base to more than double to 347,000 MW by the end of 2013. Countries in the Asia Pacific region, particularly China, are expected to be the most significant contributors to this expansion.