SUPRAPOWER project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No 308793
SUPRAPOWER (SUPerconducting, Reliable, lightweight, And more POWERful offshore wind turbine) is an EU FP7 founded research project focused on a major innovation in offshore wind turbine technology by developing a new compact superconductor-based generator.
The project aims to provide an important breakthrough in offshore wind industrial solutions by designing an innovative, lightweight, robust and reliable 10 MW class offshore wind turbine based on a superconducting (SC) generator, taking into account all the essential aspects of electric conversion, integration and manufacturability.
Today’s geared as well as direct-drive permanent magnet generators are difficult to scale up further. Their huge size and weight drives up the cost of both fixed and floating foundations as well as O&M cost. New solutions to provide better power scalability, weight reduction and reliability are needed. Superconductivity may be the only technology able to combine such features and allow scaling to 10 MW and beyond by radical reduction of the head mass.
The main outcome of the project will be a SC generator able to be scaled in wind turbines up to power levels of 10MW and beyond, enforcing a key European technology.
The total budget of the project is 5.398.019,03€, being 3.891.058,45€ funded by the European Commission.
Superconductivity is a key technology to decrease weight and size, particularly when addressing the weight restrictions in offshore installations for both fixed and floating platforms. The Superconducting Direct Drive generator will weigh about 200t, with a power of 10 MW, rated speed of 10 rpm and 10 MN·m torque. It implies a reduction of about 30% with respect to current alternatives. Moreover, a power of 10 MW is presented as a limit for conventional technologies (even with Permanent Magnets).
SUPRAPOWER will validate the concept for a 10 MW SC direct drive generator. It will lead the basis for the development of a technology for large generators of 10, 15 or even 20 MW, up to the power and load level approaching the aerodynamic limit of the blades.
SUPRAPOWER will offer a more readily implementable solution compared to other on-going research on superconducting generator concepts:
This superconducting generator will be based on MgB2 wire to comply with the cost and reliability demanded by industry. MgB2 wire has already been used in coils for MRI commercial systems. SUPRAPOWER will use it for wind-turbine generators. For this purpose, dedicated coil designs for rotating requirements will be developed, compatible with operational conditions and cryogen-free cooling.
It is important to note that most current proposed SC solutions for wind turbine are focused on HTS conductor materials (GE, GE-Converteam & Zenergy Power, AMSC, RISO-DTU), or other SC machines (Hydrogenie project, Siemens and AMSC). These approaches will be less attractive from the cost point of view due to the high price of HTS.
An important advantage is that the MgB2 based superconducting generator is free of rare earth components.
Cryogenic cooling technology in rotating configuration. Up to now, SC rotating machines have required cooling with circulating cryogenic liquids, an option not applicable in offshore applications because of cost and reliability concerns (especially with He). SUPRAPOWER will develop a rotating joint able to suitable for offshore conditions and to enable rotor cooling by means of an innovative adaptation of readily available cryocoolers. A cryogen-free based system adaptable to the needs of wind turbine generators has not been built yet and will be a breakthrough on the state-of-art.
Modularity and warm iron poles: on the one hand, advances in construction, assembly, maintenance and repair operations due to the modularity. On the other hand a warm Fe pole rotor means that the high torque transmission (10 MN·m in the full scale machine!) will be shared between the cold part (SC coils) and the warm one (Fe poles).