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American Superconductor Corp. (AMSC) has entered into a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory and its National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) to validate the economics of a full 10 MW-class superconductor wind turbine. AMSC is separately developing full 10 MW-class wind turbine component and system designs. A CRADA allows the federal government and industry partners to optimize their resources, share technical expertise in a protected environment and speed the commercialization of technologies.

Under the 12-month program, AMSC Windtec, a wholly owned subsidiary of AMSC, will analyze the cost of a full 10 MW-class superconductor wind turbine, which will include a direct-drive superconductor generator and all other components, including the blades, hub, power electronics, nacelle, tower and controls. The NWTC will then benchmark and evaluate the wind turbine's economic impact, both in terms of its initial and overall cost of energy.

Direct-drive wind generator systems utilizing high temperature superconductor wire instead of copper wire for the generator's rotor are expected to be much smaller, lighter, more efficient and more reliable than conventional generators and gearboxes, according to AMSC. The company estimates that its superconductor technology will enable a 10 MW-class generator system that would weigh approximately 120 metric tons, compared with approximately 300 metric tons for conventional direct-drive generators with this power rating.

The superconductor generators that are to be utilized for 10 MW-class superconductor wind turbines are based on proven technology that AMSC has developed for superconductor ship propulsion motors and generators under contracts with the U.S. Navy.

SOURCE: American Superconductor Corp.


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