MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: The EU-funded EcoSwing project ended as scheduled on 30.04.2019. EcoSwing successfully aimed at demonstrating world's first superconducting low-cost and lightweight wind turbine drivetrain— on a large-scale commercial wind turbine.
During the 4 year project the EcoSwing ambitions were high, the consortium aimed at nothing less than the following objectives:
- Designing, developing and manufacturing a full scale multi-megawatt direct-drive superconducting (HTS) wind generator including a dedicated power converter suitable for current mass mainstream markets.
- Installing this superconducting drive train on an existing modern wind turbine in Denmark.
- Operating the superconducting drive train for at least one year, giving the community confidence in superconducting wind generators.
- Proving that the new HTS drive train is cost competitive to state-of-the-art direct-drive permanent magnet generators of world class suppliers.
- Proving that the new HTS drive train can be cost competitive to state-of-the-art geared drive trains in series production.
- Developing and manufacturing a cost-efficient cryogenics package that can be maintained atop a wind turbine by regular service people.
- Developing and manufacturing a low-cost and maintenance-friendly HTS coil package based on second generation (2G) wire. This contributed to maturing and stabilizing the European Superconductor industry.
- Addressing unique aspects of HTS drive trains (for instance in terms of hazard analysis) and providing a way for type certification.
- Developing a risk technical & financial management strategy in order to pave the way for market entry of HTS drive trains.
Relative to these demanding ambitions EcoSwing has performed impressively. We scored the worldwide first superconductive generator on a commercial wind turbine. EcoSwing generator and power converter reached target range +3 MW. Beforehand, the EcoSwing generator was successfully tested at the Fraunhofer IWES laboratories in Bremerhaven and certified for prototype installation by DNV-GL.
Due to accumulated project delays, we did not reach a running time of one year. However, we logged 650 h of grid-connected operation (mostly in automatic mode). Many Danish households could claim "powered by superconductivity".
Core technologies like the cryogenics showed more than 7 months of stable and reliable system operation. Also the superconducting rotor coils showed great performance and reliability. According to schedule EcoSwing has been switched-off for decommissioning on 25.4.2019 .
About the installation site
The lead partner, Envision, provided for EcoSwing one of the most modern wind turbines in the market. The GC-1 is a 3.6 MW wind turbine with 128 m rotor diameter, and full power converter. It used to have a conventional direct-drive permanent-magnet generator. GC-1 is located at a demanding coastal site in Western Denmark, Thyborøn, near-shore to the North Sea. The environment is characterized by 9.7 m/s average wind speeds. There are also low turbulence conditions from the sea and high turbulence from the south caused by industrial buildings and additional near-shore wind turbines. The design features already partial pitch and 2-blade design for low extreme loads and endurance in onshore and offshore typhoon areas.
Main facts of GC-1 project are available on a dedicated site: project-gc1.com.
Superconductors are capable of conducting electricity without resistance. They are thus highly complementary to energy efficient technologies as a substitute to copper. In comparison to copper they can carry 100x times the current density, making electrical machinery compact and lightweight. Vastly reduced material usage contributes to making this technology highly competitive to conventional machinery.