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The CSIC Institutes of Materials Science of Barcelona and Aragón, CSIC-UNIZAR, together with Gamesa Innovation and Technology develop the first prototype of an electric Superconducting generator for medium power wind turbines (2MW)

12 December 2016

• The prototype is the first in the world to be used in medium-power wind turbines.
• The use of Superconducting materials simplifies the system obtaining greater reliability and greater efficiency thus reducing maintenance needs.
• This breakthrough opens the way to a new conception of wind turbines and offers a new perspective to the wind energy industry.

Monday, December 12, 2016.

Gamesa Innovation and Technology, a leading Spanish technology company in the wind energy industry, the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC) and the Institute of Materials Science of Aragón (ICMA-CSIC-UNIZAR), partially funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Retos Colaboración RTC-2014-1740-3), have successfully completed the first phase of development of the first medium speed Superconducting generator to be used in conventional medium power wind turbines (2MW).

It is a generator that, being built using Superconducting materials, can rotate at a lower rotation speed (one third of the usual) thus reducing the weight of the multiplier gearbox significantly as well as the inertia of the system simplifying and lightening all the mechanical assembly or drivetrain and the structure itself.

The electric Superconducting generator is the result of an innovative architecture with a lower use of cooper and an iron-less magnetic circuit which results in a greater efficiency and, consequently, a much lower generation of heat thus drastically reducing cooling requirements.

The advantages of this new type of electric generator that uses Superconducting materials compared to the conventional generators are diverse: it simplifies the entire mechanical structure of the wind turbine as well as the electronic system; simplifies assembly and maintenance, reduces the risk of breakdowns; the time of intervention for maintenance is extended; and, in the near future, the cost will be reduced according to the rapid evolution of Superconducting materials.

The future implementation of this type of electric Superconducting generator in the wind turbines opens a new perspective to the wind energy industry, making windmills more efficient and robust and reducing the costs of energy production.

After four years of intense collaboration between the three entities, the culmination of the first phase of the project in early 2016 with the successful construction of this prototype and the corresponding trials has become a clear success case of Technology Transfer from research in superconducting materials to its possible applications in the generation of wind energy.

ICMAB-CSIC, ICMA-CSIC and Gamesa Innovation and Technology continue to collaborate in order to carry out field trials to offer new innovative technological solutions in this sector.

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