When connecting to the electrical grid network, wind turbines, like other generators, must prove that they comply with strict grid codes. This generally requires a full-scale prototype to be erected in the field to allow a series of tests to run under a variety of wind conditions.
Field testing can take several years to complete, mainly due to planning permissions and the weather conditions required for each test, not to mention the inevitable challenges encountered when commissioning a first-of-a-kind prototype turbine. To make things even tougher, grid codes have become more stringent in recent times making it increasingly complicated and time consuming to do these tests in the field.
For this reason, ORE Catapult has recently expanded the capabilities of its 3 MW and 15 MW nacelle testing facilities through the construction of eGrid, one of the most advanced grid emulation systems in the world. Through the combination of these facilities, ORE Catapult can not only test the main bearings, gearbox, main shaft and generator, but also the central control, converters, transformer and switchgear.
The 18MVA system allows our Testing and Validation clients to simultaneously test mechanical and electrical systems, in order to evaluate electrical performance, gain critical performance data and achieve grid-compliant assurance.
eGrid does this by emulating AC grid voltage, current, frequency and power balance, allowing the simulation of abnormal conditions that wind and tidal turbines might experience in the field. Without a grid emulation system, manipulating these elements directly on the grid during tests creates a risk to network stability and could result in catastrophic impact on the entire electrical power network. By using the Catapult’s assets as a controlled test environment, the system provides a platform for electrical power quality research and testing in a controlled environment.
As the next generation of offshore wind turbines approaches market readiness, the project will also enable the Catapult to attract the largest and most advanced offshore wind systems in the world to the UK.
The wind industry is now under immense pressure to achieve the ambitious bid prices of recent CfD 3 wind farm auctions in the UK and Europe. Three main sources of cost reduction have been identified to achieve this,
Through risk reduction by more extensive and representative testing, investors’ confidence will increase reducing the cost of borrowing. Furthermore, additional testing will improve turbine design, reducing downtime and increasing capacity factors. Lastly, reducing the field-testing need will expedite the rollout of new larger turbines. The cost reduction will come from:
The Catapult is offering business support services and assistance to UK SMEs seeking to grow and innovate in grid connection products and services. The project is specifically targeted at:
The Grid Connection Support Series has been established for UK SMEs seeking to innovate and grow, particularly those operating in the following areas:
The Grid Connection Support Series has a strong focus on academic collaboration and is open to institutions undertaking research in areas such as:
Each participating company can access 12 hours free-of-charge support time with ORE Catapult. This includes the following services:
Each participating company has access to 12 hours free-of-charge support time with ORE Catapult providing the following services:
A core function of ORE Catapult is to support small business growth and partner with academic institutions. The Grid Connection Support Series is a gateway to new opportunities for businesses to drive forward innovation, enter new markets and form collaborations that ultimately stimulate growth and enhance areas of research. The series is designed to support any UK SMEs and academic institutions across grid connection, not just exclusively for those operating in renewable energy.