GE Power Conversion has completed trials of PassiveBoost, a technology that is designed to allow remote power networks to go direct current (DC), and would reduce the cost of offshore wind energy by 15%.
The new system will increase the electrical output delivered from renewable energy sources in distant, inhospitable places.
Trials for the new systems were performed at the company’s full-scale power system test site near Leicester in the UK.
The company claims that the solution provides a straight replacement, on the same footprint, for the alternating current (AC) transformer inside every wind turbine and allows direct connection to a high-voltage DC power collection grid.
GE Power Conversion senior executive Keiran Coulton said that whether extracting fossil fuels or capitalising on renewable energy resources, the company is determined in working further offshore or in inhospitable desert locations.
"In either case, the energy wasted in AC transmission systems is costing the energy consumer too much. The technologies behind PassiveBoost will enable these costs to be cut," Coulton said.
PassiveBoost uses a new power device packaging technique with a cooling system, and its ActiveFoldback fault protection system.
Coulton also said like all electronics, the cost of power conversion is coming down while the prices of materials in a conventional transformer are rising.
Scottish Enterprise has supported the PassiveBoost project, with components of the trial system being developed at GE’s Glasgow plant.
Scottish Enterprise director of renewable energy and low carbon technologies Seoniad Vass said that cutting down the cost of electricity produced by offshore wind is a key factor in realizing the significant economic potential of the technology.
"As a result, the development of innovative technologies such as this is key to the sector’s ongoing development, and we look forward to continuing to work with GE in this important field," Vass said.
Research and development of the new system was undertaken by teams from GE’s Advanced Technology Group at the University of Edinburgh and in Rugby, Warwickshire.