In this podcast by Kurz Wind, Freqcon explains the advantages of ultracapacitors and how they are beneficial for use in the wind industry. Ultracapacitors, which are also called supercapacitors, are a type of energy storage for wind systems. They are used to store electrical energy, and they are increasingly more popular options for energy storage due to several reasons. Their design is unique because they are essentially a cross between a battery and a traditional capacitor.
The First Ultracapacitor
Freqcon started to get more involved in the wind energy industry and especially building more large-scale equipment when the cost of production became lower as wind turbines became larger. The combination made large-scale wind make more sense. The idea for creating ultracapacitors came from the desire to create safer and more energy-efficient large-scale systems. Freqcon helped to create several critical parts for one of the first and largest ultracapacitors, which was called Goldwin. Developed pitch system, power converter, and control system for the turbine. That was the first time that ultracapacitors were used.
Maintenance is essential for wind turbines, but it is often difficult to ensure components are maintained properly. Freqcon’s ultracapacitors are designed to be easy to maintain. Even if a small component fails, it can bring the system down for quite a while and produce tremendous amounts of downtime. The more components that break down, the more difficult it is to keep the turbine up and running. Developing quality products to start with reduces maintenance and improves system performance overall. Additionally, replacing parts can be expensive and labor-intensive. Offshore turbines may require teams to go by helicopter to make repairs.
Difference between a Lead Acid Battery and Ultracapacitor
A lead-acid battery is the standard solution for wind turbines. The batteries are used in pitch backup systems. They have some advantages but also some disadvantages. One advantage is that the batteries are inexpensive. The main disadvantage of the batteries is that they have a limited lifespan. Since they must withstand relatively harsh environments, they typically need to be replaced every four years. However, ultracapacitors can be recharged many times. Ultracapacitors have a lifespan of 20 years, and they work equally well in a wide range of temperatures. A reliable storage unit for power in the pitch system reduces the amount of downtime that a system may otherwise face. The amount of service that a system needs is also minimized. Ultracapacitors are safer and more convenient, as they eliminate the need for climbing into a turbine when conditions are extreme, including when there are storms and when temperatures are very hot or cold. One reason they are safer than battery-powered turbines is that they require less maintenance, which means that technicians don’t have to climb into the turbine as often.
Solutions to Overcharging
Overcharging of the batteries can occur if the charger isn’t working correctly. Gases may leak from the battery, which can ultimately cause an explosion. This problem can also cause electric sparks, which is a safety risk that can happen to a regular battery that is overcharged. An overcharged battery that is leaking gas can be a major health and safety risk to the service technician who is taking care of the battery replacement. Ultracapacitors do not have this problem, and they can also be charged to zero volts, if necessary, which is not an option with the battery.
Improvements to Charging Cards
Charging cards are more expensive than batteries. They also need to be changed fairly frequently, which increases downtime. However, Freqcon is devising an alternative by retrofitting systems to replace both batteries and charging cards that may be failing. Currently, there is a 30-newton product in development that is designed to provide a solution for batteries and charging cards.
To find out more about ultracapacitors, contact Kurz Wind today.
Categorised in: Latest Wind Power Industry News - Kurz Wind Division
This post was written by Matt Passannante