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15MW PM motor will stress-test wind turbines

11 June, 2013

A 15MW direct-drive permanent magnet motor weighing around 300 tonnes is being installed at a UK facility to test and develop the next generation of wind turbine components.

The 8m-diameter motor, one of the largest of its type ever built, will run at speeds of up to 30 rpm and will deliver up to 14.3Nm of torque for performance, endurance and accelerated life testing of full-scale wind turbine nacelles.

The £50m test facility is being installed at the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) in Blyth, Northumberland. The 35m-high, 3,000m2 facility will allow turbine manufacturers to develop and build the next generation of wind turbines that are expected to be more efficient, reliable and cost-effective than current machines.

The 15MW PM motor, which will act as the main drive to emulate wind speed, has been developed by General Electric in Rugby, UK, with controls supplied by GE in Berlin, Germany. Due to its size, it has been assembled on-site.

GE is supplying the test facility as a turnkey package, from the grid supply to the motor shaft. The installation includes a heavy-duty MV drive system, as well as automation and visualisation equipment.

The 15MW direct-drive motor during commissioning at Narec

The Narec rig is the world’s largest independent, open-access facility for testing wind turbine drivetrains. It has been built as a public-private partnership between energy and engineering companies and the UK government. The Government-backed Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has invested £25m in the project, with GE Power Conversion and MTS Systems Corporation designing, developing and commissioning the test rig.

MTS is supplying a hydraulic/mechanical system that will apply forces to turbine components similar to those produced by the wind in real operation.

To date, more than £125m of UK government, EU and private funding has been invested in Narec to create a unique integrated portfolio of testing and research facilities for renewable energy, operated on an open-access commercial basis. Another rig recently installed at Narec is using a 2.26MW, 12-pole motor to test tidal power drivetrains.

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