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Wind Turbine Power Generation to Condition Monitoring: An Experimental Investigation Using the Wind Turbine Simulator

Kahlil Detrick, Jun Yang & Suri Ganeriwala
SpectraQuest Inc., 8227 Hermitage Road, Richmond, VA 23228
Published: September, 12 2012


As the worldwide demand for cleaner electricity increases, so does the need for competent wind turbine technicians and fundamental wind turbine R&D. In this Technote we present the results of a series of experiments performed at SpectraQuest utilizing our Wind Turbine Simulator (WTS) designed for both educators and researchers. It was shown to produce over 300 W of power even with wind of poor uniformity. Various metrics for rating turbine performance were calculated and vibration data from the gearbox was analyzed to show gear mesh frequencies from the planetary and parallel stages as well as low speed and high speed shaft rotational frequencies. The data collected on the WTS were used to calculate different parameters power coefficient, efficiencies, tip speed ratios under varying operational conditions. The results indicate that the WTS system provides an ideal research platform to study the aerodynamics, electro-mechanical mechanisms, control systems, dynamic forces, data acquistion, sensors & instrumentation, condition monitoring & diagnostics, and power production.

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With a worldwide total installed capacity of 238 GW and $68 billion invested in new wind energy installations in 2011 (Fried, et al., 2011), there is an ever increasing need for competent technicians installing and servicing the ever increasingly massive, complex and expensive wind turbines. Just as importantly, there exists a real need for fundamental research into such fields as condition monitoring, aerodynamics, power conversion, etc. to improve the economics of investing in this clean energy technology. Modern utility-scale wind turbines convert the kinetic energy of moving air to electricity in four main stages. The first is to use the lift generated by the turbine blades to convert the wind energy into rotational energy. On all but direct drive turbines, a gearbox then converts the high torque low speed rotating shaft to a low torque high speed shaft that is coupled to a generator. The generators used in the megawatt scale machines are typically doubly-fed induction (DFIG) or permanent magnet (PM) generators. The variable frequency power is passed through a converter that matches the generated power’s frequency to that of the electric grid it is supplying.