There is a lot to be said for small companies because they are often considered quick and nimble when presented with actionable information. Large companies, on the other hand, are often considered a little slow on the uptake.
GE, however, is big company with a big wind division that acts like a small, nimble firm. Since 2002, the company says it has invested more than $2 billion in next-generation wind turbines. The company’s 1.5-MW turbine has benefited from the investment by possibly being the most manufactured worldwide. The company quickly improved the design to produce 1.6 and then 1.7-MW versions. The company has done the same for other lines. For instance, it recently took the wraps off its 3.2-MW 130 at the Husum trade fair in Germany. It is the latest on the company’s 3-MW platform, which initially offered up to 20% more annual energy output than GE’s 2.5-120, on which the 3.xs are based. For the upgrade, we tap the new 3.2-130 as our Turbine of the Month.
The new design combines a larger rotor, improved load management systems, and more efficient drivetrain over predecessor models. With four hub-height options from 85 to 155 meters, the 130-meter rotor turbine can be tailored to different site conditions.
“With its high-capacity factor, the turbine can offer efficient power supply in locations with low and medium wind speeds,” said Andreas von Bobart, GE’s general manager for its renewable energy business in Germany.
GE engineers are now thinking beyond individual turbines to entire wind farms, and so say the 3-MW platform represents a technology developed for the Industrial Internet. The company says all turbines in its brilliant line (yes, small b) will feature a network of sensors, which allow analyzing many data points to evaluate the performance and efficiency of wind farms.
By combining “big data” analytics with the industrial internet, the company says it is helping manage the variability of wind to provide smooth, predictable power. The company’s wind portfolio includes turbines with rated capacities from 1.7 MW to 3.2 MW and support services ranging from development assistance to site optimization, operations, and maintenance.
Taking advantage of energy storage along with advanced forecasting algorithms let the turbines communicate with neighboring turbines, service technicians, and operators.
It’s no secret that gearboxes have been a sore spot for the wind industry, failing well before their 20-year expected life is up. The industry is slowly getting a handle on the problem. One of GE’s handles is a patented loads control system that proactively measures stress during operation. In addition, the turbine runs with individually adjustable blade pitch for greater energy production. A power converter adjusts output voltage and frequency for the grid, further enhancing the annual energy production.
The optional battery storage is a significant option. For instance, by pairing a company-designed battery at the turbine level with forecasting algorithms, GE says owners can drive higher output and a deeper revenue stream. Company engineers have developed three battery-focused software applications that work with the wind turbine to improve the availability of wind power. Owners and operators can select the application or a combination of them to best suits their site needs. The controls apps are intended for:
• Ramp control. In conventional setups, when wind speed increases quickly, the grid cannot always absorb the extra power produced. The Ramp Control App lets a brilliant turbine capture power what would ordinarily be lost and store it in the battery.
• Predictable power. Power producers must provide consistent and predictable power to the grid. The variability of wind, however, makes smooth grid integration challenging. The Predictable Power App lets a brilliant turbine smooth out short-term peaks and valleys in wind power and makes it predictable over periods of 15 to 60 minutes.
• Frequency regulation. Power demand changes throughout the day requiring grid operators to keep up with its constant fluctuation. Grid operators look to power producers to respond rapidly to keep the grid balanced. The Frequency Regulation App lets wind farms store energy in the battery and respond immediately and with precision to load changes.
Filed Under: News, Turbines