American Superconductor Delivers Converters for Wind Turbines

November 28, 2005 by Jeff Shepard

American Superconductor Corp. (Westborough, MA) today announced a follow-on order for its proprietary PowerModule-based wind turbine generator control systems from Windtec Systemtechnik GmbH, a supplier of large wind turbine components and system technology, based in Klagenfurt, Austria. The PowerModule-based control systems will be utilized in the electrical equipment of 23 wind turbine generators - each rated at 1.5 megawatts - which Windtec plans to ship to China and Japan in calendar 2006. AMSC expects to ship the PowerModule PM1000 power converters, which manage and stabilize electricity produced by wind turbine generators, to Windtec in the first half of calendar year 2006.

This order follows Windtec's successful utilization of AMSC's PowerModule PM1000 Product Developer Kit in a wind turbine test bed. PowerModule PM1000 power electronic converters - which are based on advanced Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) power semiconductor devices - provide a platform for designers to quickly develop both hardware and software elements of power conversion systems ranging from 60 kilowatts to multi-megawatts for a wide array of applications.

"The ability to modify the PM1000's standard software in order to accommodate Windtec's unique requirements allowed us to focus our development efforts on wind turbine systems instead of on IGBT-based power converter development," said Gerald Hehenberger, President of Windtec. "This has also allowed us to focus more resources on the introduction of advanced control technologies into the market - a change that we believe gives us a competitive edge in the fast-growing market for wind generation of electricity."

Each wind turbine generator control system that AMSC supplies to Windtec is comprised of a PM1000 line-side converter and a PM1000 generator-side converter. Synchronized operation of the two units is coordinated through high speed Controlled Area Network (CAN) communications. Integration of Windtec's proprietary software into the PM1000 power converter was achieved through AMSC's PowerModule Advanced Configuration Tools (P-ACT™). The P-ACT tool set provides an Application Programming Interface (API) that allows engineers access to PM1000 parameters and communication objects. The P-ACT tool set also provides a development framework to allow automatic linking of customer code with AMSC's core software.

"We have been working closely with Windtec to develop innovative solutions for wind customers around the world," said Greg Yurek, chief executive officer of AMSC. "This follow-on production order demonstrates the success of AMSC's PowerModule PM1000 power converters and PowerModule Advanced Configuration Tools to rapidly develop solutions for the wind generation industry."

From 1990 to 2002, wind was the fastest growing power source worldwide on a percentage basis, with an annual average growth rate exceeding 30%, according to the American Wind Energy Association. They also note that in 2004 world wind capacity reached 47,317 MW. AMSC participates in this growing market both through sales of its Dynamic-VAR, or D-VAR® systems, which allow wind farm developers to meet the standards for interconnecting wind farms to power grids, and through sales of PowerModule-based wind turbine generator control systems, which are incorporated directly into wind turbines.