Sunday, February 01, 2009

Superconductor Generators For Wind

American Superconductor is making 100 superconducting generator sets for China.

DEVENS, Mass. --Jan. 22, 2009--American Superconductor Corporation, a leading energy technologies company, today announced that it has received a multi-million-dollar order for 100 sets of its wind turbine core electrical components from China's CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Research Institute Co.(CSR-ZELRI), Ltd. The company will use the components in 1.65 megawatt (MW) wind turbines designed by AMSC's wholly owned AMSC Windtec™ subsidiary. Under the terms of the contract, AMSC expects to ship all of the core electrical components by the end of calendar 2009 to support CSR-ZELRI's increased production of wind turbines.

AMSC's core electrical components include the company's proprietary PowerModule™ PM3000W power converter and enable reliable, high-performance wind turbine operation by controlling power flows, regulating voltage, monitoring system performance and controlling the pitch of wind turbine blades to maximize efficiency. Introduced in late 2008, the PM3000W is a fully programmable, flexible and modular power converter developed specifically for wind turbines with power ratings up to 6 MW.
The advantage of superconducting generators is that they weigh less. And the less the weight at the top of the tower the less material that is needed to make the tower. Doing more with less. Since capital costs are a very big component of the cost of wind energy lowering them lowers the cost of wind energy.

China has big plans for wind.
According to the Chinese Wind Energy Association [written in Chinese], China will grow its base of wind power from 5.9 gigawatts (GW) at the end of 2007 to more 10 gigawatts in 2008. In its Global Wind Energy Outlook 2008 report, the Global Wind Energy Council estimates that China's installed base could grow to 101 GW by 2020 under its "moderate" outlook scenario and 201 GW under its "advanced" scenario.
I think you have to divide those numbers by 3 to get the average power output. So 101 GW installed is equal to about 33 - 1 GW coal or nuclear plants. Not bad.

According to the Global Wind Energy Outlook 2008 report about 30% of the US investment in new electrical generating capacity is going into wind. And Turkey is ordering wind turbines like crazy. Wind is an excellent hedge against rising natural gas prices as the two types of generation are complimentary.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Update: 02 Feb. 2009 02:41z

Commenter Keith says there are no superconductors involved. He is right. I let my wishful thinking run away with me. He does say AMSC is developing a 10 MW generator for offshore wind. Something I would not have known without my error. A 10 MW job is just about the limit with current blade technology. So that is very welcome news.


Keith said...

Your post is full of misinformation.

I'm an investor in American Superconductor (AMSC) and I'm very long on AMSC but you shouldn't be putting bogus information out there like this.

The 100 sets of electrical components sent to China in the order you reference has nothing to do with superconductor generators.

AMSC has NO superconductor wind generators and their recent order from China has NOTHING to do with superconductors.

They are currently in the midst of a 30 month development project with TECO-Westinghouse to develop a 10MW class superconductor wind generator for use in off-shore wind farms. They're still at the very least one year away from actually commercializing this generator.

Furthermore, they have not received any orders from Turkey relating to wind turbines. They have signed a license agreement with a company to help the Turkish company bring turbines to market. But as yet, NOTHING.

The real opportunities for AMSC continue to be in China (where the wind energy business is booming). AND, they have a tremendous opportunity in Korea via their licensing agreement with Hyundai Heavy Industries.

M. Simon said...


I guess my imagination ran wild. I will make a note in the post.

Roger said...

These newer turbines do better in varying wind conditions, this opens up more areas to wind development.

Microprocessor control of voltage, blade pitch, etc., has really been an nice advancement over the last few years.

I recently watched a U tube of a small 100W unit that more resembled the blades visible in the front of a jet engine. I dont think the unit was more than 3-4 ft across.