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Wind turbines are becoming a bigger part of the race towards a greener future, but at the same time the technology is evolving rapidly and we are learning how to prototype new turbines quickly and before connecting them to the power grid. The question arises as to whether it can be tested effectively. . A study published by a German research group in an academic journal in February.IEEE Open Journal of Power Electronics We outline four ways to test wind turbines and get them on the grid as quickly as possible.The purpose is to find problems early in the testing phase.

Wind turbines have traditionally undergone extensive testing in the field for decades to ensure they are ready for active integration into the power grid. This approach requires simple test equipment, but there are some caveats.

Florian Hans, a researcher in the Power Electronics and Grid Integration Group at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems, said: “Field tests have the disadvantage of being dependent on favorable wind and weather conditions, and the tests carried out are only partial. It can only be reproduced.” IWES), Bremerhaven, Germany.

Nacelle test bench hall operated by Fraunhofer IWES.Martina Buchholz/IWES

Because there are so many different factors that affect wind turbines, such as wind speed, grid loading, and grid voltage, there are significant benefits to testing wind turbines in a more controlled environment.

Hans and colleagues at Fraunhofer IWES are therefore developing new laboratory testing methods for wind turbines that allow for more control variables and reproducible results. “These benefits shorten test campaigns and reduce costs,” Hans said, adding that in the lab's controlled conditions, changes can be made based on customer needs, such as changes in voltage, frequency and grid strength. It was also mentioned that various power grid conditions can be simulated using .

The first method Hans and his colleagues are proposing involves testing how the entire turbine, including its electrical and mechanical components and their interactions, functions within a simulated grid. This includes: To support this approach, Fraunhofer IWES is currently commissioning a new grid simulator called Mobilegrid. The simulator can test a wide range of turbines onshore and offshore with up to 20 megawatts of power and 20,33 voltages. , or 66 kilovolts.

Although not new, a second approach, called the nacelle test,This includes simulations of wind fields, rotor blades, and power grids, which together allow researchers to simulate a variety of wind and power grid conditions. As described in the group's paper, Fraunhofer IWES has been conducting this type of test through his DyNaLab (Dynamic Nacelle Test Laboratory) since 2015.

Finally, the researchers use two testbench techniques. One for analyzing wind turbine subsystems and one for analyzing individual components. The team's new component-level test bench, called PQ4Wind, emulates all the components of a wind turbine except the main frequency converter. “The advantage is a high degree of flexibility with minimal installation effort and no interference from other components,” says Hans.

The researchers discuss strengths and limitations in their paper.We will discuss each of these testing approaches. For example, simulated nacelle testing requires less technology integration to conduct the final field test, but few facilities offer such services.The researchers say that, taken together, their approach will improve wind turbine testing and integration of turbines into existing power grids and wind farms by identifying problems early, before the turbines undergo final field testing. It points out that it has the potential to accelerate integration.

Currently, field tests to validate new wind turbine models are typically done late in the development process, and sometimes even after the turbines are in service, Hans said. As a result, errors discovered late in the game can incur additional costs and lengthen schedules. “Given these challenges, approaches that speed up the entire validation process or allow testing at a lower level are very attractive to the industry,” says Hans.

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