ABB delivers high power converters for the latest giant offshore turbines

ABB delivers high power converters for the latest giant offshore turbines

ABB’s medium voltage PCS6000 converters already support wind turbine power ratings up to 13 MW and the next generation will go even higher. The converters are successfully operating in the world’s most powerful offshore turbines.

Offshore wind can play a vital role in efforts to decarbonize energy production. Higher power turbines are a major trend in the wind industry because they help wind park operators to maintain profitability at a time when subsidies are reducing.

With the industry demanding bigger turbines, ABB continues to develop higher power versions of its PCS6000 medium voltage (MV) converter. It has delivered these higher power converters for GE’s Haliade-X turbine, which is currently the most powerful offshore wind turbine in the world. By the end of 2019, a GE Haliade-X turbine installed at a test site in the Port of Rotterdam had already reached its nominal output of 12 MW feeding into the public grid.

“Being part of this huge new offshore turbine development is a significant milestone for us, and we are very excited at the opportunities this project will open up,” says Chris Poynter, Managing Director of ABB System Drives. “Turbines approaching 15 MW are around the corner and data obtained from the converter and turbine type tests is supporting our R&D to achieve even higher power. Our advanced converter technology can be scaled up to powers as high as 18 MW and we are working closely with stakeholders in the wind industry to keep our development work aligned with their increasing power requirements for future offshore turbines.”

GE Haliade-X turbine installed at a test site in the Port of Rotterdam. (Picture: Courtesy of GE)
GE Haliade-X turbine installed at a test site in the Port of Rotterdam. (Picture: Courtesy of GE)

Benefits of medium voltage converter technology

Medium voltage operation offers clear advantages at higher turbine power levels. The higher voltage means lower currents in the electrical drivetrain, which in turn enables the use of smaller cables along with a smaller converter footprint and less weight. In addition, ABB MV converters boost overall turbine efficiency with the use of IGCT (integrated gate-commutated thyristor) semiconductor technology.

The advanced control algorithm in the PCS6000 applies the adaptable maximum torque per ampere strategy, which ensures the best overall generator operation at all times. It optimizes the generator’s operation point according to the wind speed while minimizing losses in the generator windings.

ABB's PCS6000 wind turbine converter
ABB's PCS6000 wind turbine converter

The converter’s low part count and features like the fuseless design deliver high availability and - combined with the low footprint and low weight - enable easy installation either in the nacelle or tower base.

The benefits of medium voltage converter technology consequently help wind park operators to realize the lowest LCOE (levelized cost of energy) and get superior returns on their investment.

The PCS6000 converter meets the grid codes of major European and several other countries, and it produces robust performance in weak grid conditions.

Over the years the PCS6000 has established a solid track record in offshore installations, and more than 200 units are operating in the North Sea, Baltic Sea and off the coasts of China. In addition, ABB has supplied over 15,000 low voltage converters to the wind industry.

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