Increasing sustainability of LEITWIND turbines through of ultracapacitors

Modern applications in the growing renewable energy market require increasingly high standards in relation to the components used. In fact, the cost of producing electricity from renewable sources on a large scale continues to fall and to compete with the cost efficiency of conventional energy production plants, there is an increasing demand for components that overcome the known issues of intermittency and non-programmability of renewables. LEITWIND is constantly working to optimize the performance of its wind turbines and, after several studies and research, identified a possible alternative solution to the use of batteries in Pitch Control systems: the ultracapacitors. 
The Pitch Control system of a wind turbine regulates the power production of the turbine through the position of the rotor blades, which changes according to the wind. The efficiency of the wind turbine is thus optimized and adapted to the prevailing wind direction and strength. In addition, the oscillatory motion system is part of the brake and has therefore also a very relevant safety task.
In the case of strong winds, for instance, the blades are turned into a "flag position" to stop the rotor. The control signals and energy required to position the blades must therefore be highly reliable and accurate.
To be able to control the Pitch system and bring the blades to the "flag position" also in the event of a grid failure, the Pitch system requires an independent back-up power supply in the hub. For safety reasons, this must be provided individually for each blade.
Batteries were the original backup power solution in Pitch systems, but technology now offers a better and more innovative solution, named ultracapacitors, which are particularly robust energy storage devices. 
This new system has been tested on one of our plants, precisely in the municipality of Melfi (ITA), where the batteries of the pitch system have been replaced with ultracapacitors in August.
The application, which was carried out by the department of electrical engineering alongside the load and control team, is yielding positive results, as errors on this part of the system have decreased substantially.
The turbine test will last 6 months and, if the application continues to produce bespoken results, will be extended to all new wind generators.

Benefits include:
  • Extended lifetime of ultracapacitors (almost 4 times longer than regular batteries)
  • reduction in space (about half of the space currently required)
  • substantial reduction in service costs.
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