Alstom and Converteam team up for offshore 6 MW offshore direct drive wind turbines

Global leader in power generation equipment and services, Alstom, and power conversion specialist, Converteam, are collaborating on the world’s largest direct drive permanent magnet generator (PMG) for a wind turbine. As a first step Converteam will equip Alstom’s two 6 MW offshore wind turbines prototypes that will be installed onshore and offshore in Europe during winter 2011 and in 2012.

Alstom’s next generation 6MW turbine combines leading edge, quality technologies into a robust, simple and efficient turbine design that will bring down the cost of energy (COE) of offshore wind energy. These include an innovative arrangement featuring Alstom’s unique and proven ALSTOM PURE TORQUE™ technology and Converteam’s world-leading direct drive PMG that will together ensure outstanding reliability of the turbine’s drive train.

ALSTOM PURE TORQUE™ protects and improves generator performance by diverting unwanted stresses from the wind safely to the turbine’s tower. Only turning force, or torque, is transmitted to the generator, which ensures sufficient air gap is maintained between the generator rotor and stator, thereby boosting its performance and reliability.

“Direct drive” systems have no mechanical gearbox coupled to the generator. Their low number of rotating parts increases reliability, to maximise turbine availability and reduce maintenance costs. The use of a “permanent magnet” generator leads to better generation efficiencies and even greater overall mechanical reliability, which is critical in offshore wind farm where reliability is fundamental.

Converteam will supply Alstom with its innovative “Advanced High Density” (AHD) direct drive PMG, which is a more compact and lightweight design compared to earlier generation direct drive systems.

Converteam delivered their first permanent magnet generators for 5 MW wind turbines in 2004, and their first high power (rated 3.7MW) direct drive PMG has been in operation since 2008. With more than 22 GW of wind power converters delivered so far they are the world leader amongst independent manufacturers.

Alstom’s turbine has been developed for the wind conditions encountered in most offshore locations in Europe, the US and the rest of the world. Two prototypes will be installed in 2011 and 2012, a pre-series in 2013 (the final rollout step before full commercialisation), and series production in 2014.

Other key features of the turbine include its very large rotor diameter – using the world’s longest turbine blades jointly developed with LM Wind Power – and 6MW power output for higher energy output. High yield helps offset wind farm investment and operating costs. The turbine’s weight has also been optimized to reduce installation and infrastructure costs.

In January Alstom and EDF Energies Nouvelles (EDF-EN) announced that, using this turbine, they would bid jointly for projects under the recently launched 3GW French offshore wind tender.

Alstom has also announced it will collaborate with Belgian wind farm developer Belwind with a view to demonstrating its next generation 6 MW direct drive offshore wind turbine as part of a demonstrator project in Belgium of approximately 40MW.

This innovative project, which is calling for EU funding under the NER300 scheme, would be developed over the period 2012-2015 at Phase 2 of the Belwind wind farm located on the Bligh Bank on the Belgian continental shelf, near the Belgian port of Zeebrugge in Flanders. Belwind will provide an essential proving ground for Alstom’s new offshore wind turbine technology testing.