American Superconductor has established itself at the forefront of the global multi-billion dollar wind energy and power grid markets. After 26 years in the industry they now boast some of the most advanced systems, as well as individual components available in the space today. Spanning the entire energy value range with platform solutions tailored to the exact customer’s needs, from generation to transmission and eventual distribution, AMSC is a powerhouse provider of value-added wind and grid hardware/software.
AMSC brings a whole host of electronic controls/systems, as well as turbine designs and ancillary engineering services to some of the planet’s biggest and best manufacturers/operators via its Windtec™ Solutions division. The company can take a project from turbine conception (designs range from 1.65 MW to 10 MW) through to seamlessly hooking infrastructure up to the grid, providing entire systems or just the component the customer wants. AMSC Wind Turbine Controls and Systems help push the performance envelope to the maximum, especially in the fierce offshore arena, where the industry hungers for ever more powerful gen plants that can wring every last kilowatt-hour out of the wind’s energy. Durability, maximum uptime and availability, as well as precision quality/control are all vital factors in the equation here and smart control systems like AMSC’s wtECS™ (Electrical Control System) helps make wind more and more competitive as a source by slashing the levelized cost of electricity production (LCOE – the price, including all costs, at which electricity needs to be generated from a source to break even over the project’s lifetime).
AMSC’s Generator and Drivetrain Solutions are second-to-none in the industry today when it comes to LCOE reduction and they are available in a variety of formats. From a robust yet simple Direct Drive, to the widely used DFIG format (doubly-fed induction generators, including brushless), AMSC is a recognized leader. With solutions ranging up to full-scale conversion drivetrains, the company’s HTS Direct Drive (using power dense superconductors), and their patented SuperGEAR™ drivetrain, which gets rid of the converter and transformer altogether, AMSC has attained a considerable engineering mastery that is prized throughout the sector. Superconductors present specific, daunting manufacturing challenges and AMSC has a long track record for successfully fabricating high-temp superconductors.
The company’s Gridtec™ Solutions were in the news recently (Sept 10), with the biggest and most respected provider of turnkey high voltage solutions in South Africa, CONCO (Consolidated Power Projects), tapping the company’s D-VAR® STATCOM Renewable Interconnectivity Solution to hook up the largest wind farm in South Africa to the grid. This is a huge deal for AMSC, being the first D-VAR STATCOM (static synchronous compensator) sale into South Africa and with such a prestigious customer, it bodes well for the company, especially considering that AMSC was chosen for their proven ability to meet even the most stringent of grid code requirements. The complete compensation and voltage control capabilities of the D-VAR, which has fully dynamic reactive VAR compensation, makes the platform ideal for renewable power plants and continuous interconnectivity. AMSC currently has over 20 power grid operators worldwide using the D-VAR STATCOM solution and has orders for more than 100.
The company’s D-VAR RT is a great in-turbine retrofit that lets operators do unit-level voltage control upgrades and their Wind-RT™ Systems go even further, having been developed specifically to meet Chinese grid code specs. With sub-20 millisecond turbine isolation on power dips and immediate modulation, the Wind-RT is a simple, cost-effective low voltage ride through (LVRT) solution that helps maintain a constant voltage profile, keeps the turbine magnetized and running at a constant speed/torque, then smoothly reconnects the unit to the grid once voltage has been stabilized.
Back in 2011 the company sued then startup and customer, now Chinese wind powerhouse, Sinovel, for breaching the company’s trialware scheme on the control codes programmed into their wind turbine controller firmware and this unresolved issue is a potential major option value for the company.
By offering some of the most advanced and efficient control, grid interconnection, power capacity/reliability, and power conversion hardware on the market today, AMSC has managed to forge strong ties with key industry players. With HQ near Boston, Massachusetts, and operations in Asia, Australia, Europe and North America, AMSC is well positioned to continue dominating substantial territory in the wind and grid space as utilities and regulators continue to adapt their policies.
More info on American Superconductor Corp. is available at www.AMSC.com
Let us hear your thoughts below: