Around the globe, wind energy accounts for an increasingly large share of the electricity supply. Environmentally this is a very positive trend, but it also results in a steady push for lowering the cost. Of course, the high standards of grid supply are not to be sacrificed. Thus as industry and as a society we thus need to keep innovating. Superconductors could become a very useful innovation in wind turbine generators. From a fundamental point of view, they have almost no electric resistance, they can be cheaper than copper, and they can be efficiently cooled. They generate powerful magnetic fields with minimal energy expenditure. Rare earth metals are used only in negligible quantities. In short, superconductors carry electricity in an ideal way.
Are superconductors and wind turbine generators a perfect match?
The feasibility and viability of superconductive wind turbine generators is the single topic of this highly focussed one-day seminar. We have invited renowned experts from industry and academia to discuss various aspects of feasibility and viability:
• Are practical designs possible with superconductors?
• What is the cost basis – is a low-cost superconducting drive train a realistic prospect?
• Where will superconductive generators break-even with conventional ones?
• How about reliability – is there longer-term experience?
• Where are superconductors currently used, and how do they perform?
• Are such generators compatible with trends in the wind industry?
In this seminar experts from the wind industry can talk to producers of superconductors and to their current customers. The time is right for such a discussion, since a lot has happened recently in the realm of applied superconductivity:
• Two projects looked into feasibility of superconductivity for offshore 10 MW class. Scope included all the essential aspects of electric conversion, integration and manufacturability.
• With superconductor cost coming down, one recent design study looked into the mass market in the range of 2–4 MW and concentrated on cost reduction relative to established drive systems.
• Lastly, a consortium aims at demonstrating the world´s first superconducting low-cost and lightweight superconductive wind turbine drivetrain. The ambitious goal is to manufacture the superconductive generator before the end of 2016, and to subsequently demonstrate it on a modern 3.6 MW direct drive turbine.
We are looking forward to very fruitful and interesting discussions in Osnabrück!