The generator inside UD’s wind turbine in Lewes is being replaced by one made specifically for the U.S. market.

Next generation

First Gamesa turbine generator made specifically for US market tested at UD's Lewes campus

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11:09 a.m., July 24, 2012--The University of Delaware’s wind turbine in Lewes will be the test site for Gamesa Technology Corp.’s first generator customized for the United States, to be used in its two-megawatt wind turbines.

Gamesa, a global leader in wind energy technology, is testing the new equipment for use in wind turbines throughout North America and Central America.

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“Following completion of a successful bench test, Gamesa is now installing this new 60-hertz generator in UD’s already fully operational wind turbine to run field validation tests of the technology,” said Willett Kempton, professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment

Avinash Taware, Gamesa’s electrical section manager added, “The testing process should take between 6 and 12 months to complete.”

Gamesa has been a partner with UD since 2009, when they began collaborating on the turbine project. The turbine, Gamesa’s G90-2.0 MW model, was commissioned in 2010.

Although the domestic content of the company’s U.S.-made turbines is among the highest in the industry, some components, including the generator, are made in Europe and shipped stateside for assembly. The goal is to produce this generator in the U.S. The increase in domestic production would reduce supply chain lead time, save on shipping costs, improve the availability of spare parts and speed part support. 

“Gamesa is leading the way with technology and supply chain enhancements that will drive down the cost of energy for the benefit of American consumers and businesses,” said David Rosenberg, Gamesa’s vice president of marketing and communications. “In addition, the successful deployment of this new generator will support the U.S. economy by bringing in more manufacturing and service support jobs in clean energy development.”

A turbine’s generator is housed inside the compartment on top of the tower, called a nacelle, which weighs approximately 70 metric tons and holds many of the mechanical and electrical parts that run the turbine. About one-half the size of a compact car, the generator converts kinetic energy from wind into mechanical energy that produces electricity. 

The real-world field test follows the initial lab-based bench test and will evaluate characteristics like temperature, vibration, power quality and other parameters. 

Performing the assessment with the wind turbine is consistent with UD’s primary purpose for installing the wind turbine at the University: to serve as a research platform in an academic and industrial research and development partnership.

The 60-hertz generator will be lighter and cheaper to manufacture than the existing generator and the plan is for generators to be manufactured in Wisconsin after testing is completed. 

Other research projects since the turbine’s deployment include a study of corrosion in the marine environment; the impact on bird and bat populations; mechanical forces from the turbine blades into the nacelle and vibration of the tower under strong winds; and new health monitoring systems for the turbine including blades and transformer. 

The generator exchange work began last week. The existing generator will be placed into storage during the test.

Article by Teresa Messmore

Photos by Evan Krape and courtesy Gamesa

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