Next-generation wind power technology unveiled

Wind power technology that makes wind farms competitive with conventional large power plants has been unveiled by Asea Brown Boveri (ABB). The Windformer is claimed to increase power output by up to 20% and to cut lifetime maintenance costs in half.


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The technology, originally developed for ABB’s high-voltage generator, allows several components found in conventional wind generation systems to be eliminated, resulting in a wind generator that does not require a gearbox or a transformer, making wind farms more reliable with lower electrical losses. According to ABB, Windformer farms can be built in a range from 6MW to 300MW or more – equivalent to the output from a medium-sized fossil-fuel power plant.

Combining the Windformer with other ABB power transmission technologies allows wind farms to be located at lower cost further away from human settlements, for example on offshore installations where the wind is stronger and the turbines are out of sight and hearing range.

ABB is currently testing a 500kW prototype and Vattenfall, Sweden’s state-owned power firm, is building a 3MW Windformer on Sweden’s south coast. The plant, planned to be commissioned in 2002, will produce 8.2 GW hours of power annually, assuming an average wind speed of 8.1m/s.

Vattenfall is also preparing to apply for permission to build another three to seven turbines along Sweden’s south coast.

As the demand for alternative energy sources and small scale power generation increases, ABB plans for its share of the green power market to reach the $1 billion mark within five years.

“We have developed technologies that make wind power and other renewable and alternative energies economically attractive for the first time,” said ABB president and CEO Goran Lindahl. “With deregulation in the power market, global efforts to cut pollution and government initiatives to boost electricity production from alternative energy, especially in Europe, we think this market is poised for tremendous growth.”

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