A new topology of a direct-drive permanent magnet generator edged closer to commercialization. VertAx Wind Ltd and the University of Edinburgh, which developed the technology, have signed the first commercial licensing agreement for the C-Gen Permanent Magnet Generator. Announced in December, the agreement enables VertAx to build the technology into its multi-megawatt vertical axis wind turbine currently under development.
VertAx, a privately owned British company based in Guildford, Surrey, was established in 2007. Its vertical axis wind turbine design contrasts with the horizontal axis turbines that currently dominate wind power globally. The company’s aim is to further reduce the cost of offshore wind energy while re-establishing wind turbine manufacturing in the United Kingdom, says Offshore Wind.
C-Gen Permanent Magnet Generator
Developed at the University of Edinburgh, the C-Gen is an air-cored, lightweight, “no cogging” design that is highly scalable and suitable for wind, tidal and wave energy applications. The design has been demonstrated at various scales up to 1 MW.
The structural weight of a wind turbine generator can reach as much as 80% of the total weight on a tower, no small issue in terms of cost considerations. C-Gen, a new topology of a direct-drive permanent magnet generator, offers the potential to reduce that weight by about 55%, according to Markus Mueller, professor of electrical generation systems at the University of Edinburgh.
The concept takes the active materials in the machine—copper, magnets and steel—and changes their relative positions to minimize the normal-force effects. The result is a structure that needs to support only the weight of the active components, leading to a reduction of more than half that of permanent magnet (PM) machines.
The main benefits are reduced overall system mass and ease of manufacturing, due to the use of an air-cored winding, but also with a modular PM rotor consisting of C-core modules. Mueller reports that a 15kW rotary prototype has been fitted and tested on a commercially available wind turbine.
“This allows us to take the next step as we develop our turbine to compete in the expanding offshore market,” said VertAx Chairman Peter Hunter. “The C-Gen concept is the right generator design for our large-scale vertical axis turbine, and we look forward to successful collaboration and further development of this advanced permanent magnet generator.”
Edinburgh Innovations is a wholly-owned subsidiary company of the University of Edinburgh, will manage the intellectual property and licensing of the technology.
The global market for turbine and turbine generator set units manufacturing should reach $181.8 billion by 2020, up from $110.7 billion in 2016, indicating a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.2%.
BCC Research in its new report Turbine and Turbine Generators Set Units Manufacturing: Global Markets to 2020 categorizes the market by product type, including steam and gas turbine, wind turbine and hydro turbine. The comprehensive analysis offers information on major trends and challenges affecting the market, including technological developments, economic growth, and decreasing oil and gas prices.
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