Power Electronics in Wind Turbine Systems
F. Blaabjerg, Z. Chen, R. Teodorescu, F. Iov
Aalborg University, Institute of Energy Technology Pontoppidanstraede 101, DK-9220 Aalborg East, Denmark firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com www.iet.aau.dk Abstract – The global electrical energy consumption is still rising and there is a steady demand to increase the power capacity. The production, distribution and the use of the energy should be as technological efficient as possible and incentives to save energy at the end-user should be set up. The deregulation of energy has lowered the investment in larger power plants, which means the need for new electrical power sources may be very high in the near future. Two major technologies will play important roles to solve the future problems. One is to change the electrical power production sources from the conventional, fossil (and short term) based energy sources to renewable energy resources. The other is to use high efficient power electronics in power systems, power production and end-user application. This paper discuss the most emerging renewable energy source, wind energy, which by means of power electronics is changing from being a minor energy source to be acting as an important power source in the energy system. By that wind power is also getting an added value in the power system operation. I. INTRODUCTION In classical power systems, large power generation plants located at adequate geographical places produce most of the power, which is then transferred towards large consumption centers over long distance transmission lines. The system control centers monitor and control the power system continuously to ensure the quality of the power, namely the frequency and the voltage. However, now the overall power system is changing, a large number of dispersed generation (DG) units, including both renewable and non-renewable sources such as wind turbines, wave generators, photovoltaic (PV) generators, small hydro, fuel cells and gas/steam powered Combined Heat and Power (CHP) stations, are being developed - and installed. A wide-spread use of renewable energy sources in distribution networks and a high penetration level will be seen in the near future many places. E.g. Denmark has a high penetration (> 20%) of wind energy in major areas of the country and today 18% of the whole electrical energy consumption is covered by wind energy. The main advantages of using renewable energy sources are the elimination of harmful emissions and the 1-4244-0449-5/06/$20.00 ©2006 IEEE inexhaustible resources of the primary energy. However, the main disadvantage, apart from the higher costs, e.g. photovoltaic, is the uncontrollability. The availability of renewable energy sources has strong daily and seasonal patterns and the power demand by the consumers could have a very different characteristic. Therefore, it is difficult to operate a power system installed with only renewable generation units due to the characteristic differences and the high uncertainty in the availability of the renewable energy sources. The wind turbine technology is one of the most emerging renewable technologies. It started in the 1980’es with a few tens of kW production power to today with Multi-MW range wind turbines that are being installed. This also means that wind power production in the beginning did not have any impact on the power system control but now due to their size they have to play an active part in the grid. The technology used in wind turbines was in the beginning based on a squirrel-cage induction generator connected directly to the grid. By that power pulsations in the wind are almost directly transferred to the electrical grid. Furthermore there is no control of the active and reactive power, which typically are important control parameters to regulate the frequency and the voltage. As the power range of the turbines increases those control parameters become more important and it is necessary to introduce power electronics  as an interface between the wind turbine and the grid. The power electronics is changing the basic characteristic of the wind turbine from being an energy source to be an active power source. The electrical technology used in wind turbine is not new. It has been discussed for several years - but now the price pr. produced kWh is so low, that solutions with power electronics are very attractive. This paper will first discuss the basic development in power electronics and power electronic conversion. Then different wind turbine configurations will be explained both aerodynamically and electrically. Also different control methods will be explained for a turbine. Wind turbines are now more often installed in remote areas with good wind conditions (off-shore, on-shore) and different possible configurations are shown and compared. Finally, a general technology status of the wind power is presented demonstrating a still more efficient and attractive power source.
The first one is reliability. dependent on topology and applications. The power may flow in both directions. 2. Also important research is going on to change the material from silicon to silicon carbide. size. Fig. a) Relative number of components and functions b) Relative size and weight
Diode Silicon carbide FETs
MOS-gated thyristors Trench Silicon Insulated-gate bipolar transistors Coolmos MOSFETs IGCT IGTO Bipolar transistors
2000 2006 2010
Fig. the second is efficiency and the third one is cost.
150 100 50 0
Wind Photo-voltaic Fuel cell Other sources Control Reference (local/centralized)
Fig. A high competitive power electronic system is adjustable speed drives (ASD) and the trend of weight.II. 2. Power electronic system with the grid. Development of power semiconductor devices in the past and in the future 
. 1. load/source.
The power converter is the interface between the load/generator and the grid. It clearly shows that power electronic conversion is shrinking in volume and weight. Development of a 4 kW standard industrially adjustable speed drive during the last 25 years . and at the same time they are continuously reducing the price. The only power device which is not under development any more is the silicon-based power bipolar transistor because MOS-gated devices are preferable in the sense of easy control. MODERN POWER ELECTRONICS AND SYSTEMS Power electronics has changed rapidly during the last thirty years and the number of applications has been increasing. of course.
Power flow Appliance Industry Communication Power converter Load / generator 2-3 2-3
transistors on a commercial basis with a competitive price will still take some years to appear on the market. For the moment the cost of power semiconductor devices is decreasing 2-5 % every year for the same output performance and the price pr. It also shows that more integration is an important key to be competitive as well as more functions become available in such a product. 1 shows a typical power electronic system consisting of a power converter. The breakdown voltage and/or current carrying capability of the components are also continuously increasing. This may dramatically increase the power density of power converters but silicon carbide based
120 100 80 60 40 20 0
19 68 19 88 19 98
19 68 19 83 19 88 19 93 19 98
Size (volume) Weight
(b) Fig. number of components and functions in a standard Danfoss Drives A/S frequency converter can be seen in Fig. 3 shows different key power devices and the areas where the development is still going on. mainly due to the developments of the semiconductor devices and the microprocessor technology. kW for a power electronic system is also decreasing. Three important issues are of concern using such a system. Fig. 3. The key driver of this development is that the power electronic device technology is still undergoing important progress. For both cases higher performance is steadily given for the same area of silicon. a load/source and a control unit. power onverter and control.
The gear-box is optional as multi-pole generator systems are possible solutions. Converting wind power to electrical power in a wind turbine [17 ].Electrical Power
Wind power Rotor Gearbox (optional) Generator Power converter (optional) Supply grid
C o n sConsumer u m e r / lo a d
Power conversion & power control
Power conversion & power control
Fig. Road-map for wind energy conversion. Between the grid and the generator a power converter can be inserted. the second category is wind
. The wind turbines technology can basically be divided into three categories: the first category is systems without power electronics. 5 shows a technological roadmap starting with wind energy/power and converting the mechanical power into electrical power. . active stall (the blade angle is adjusted in order to create stall along the blades) or pitch control (the blades are turned out of the wind at higher wind speed). FIXED SPEED WIND TURBINES The development in wind turbine systems has been steady for the last 25 years and four to five generations of wind turbines exist. For multi-MW wind turbines the rotational speed will be 10-15 rpm. 4. The power limitation may be done either by stall control (the blade position is fixed but stall of the wind appears along the blade at higher wind speed). DF: Doubly-fed . It involves solutions with and without gearbox as well as solutions with or without power electronic conversion. In the following sections.
MMechanical Energy S o u r c e e c h a n ic a l E n e rg y Source Fixed/Variable e e d V a r ia b le S p Speed
Inp u t
T r a n s m is s io n
D ir e c t
G e arbo x H e a t lo s s d u m p lo a d
M a c h in e ty p e
M u lti p o l a r S y n c h r o n o u s & N o v e l M a c h in e s
C o n v e n ti o n a l S y n c h r o n o u s M a c h in e s
In d u c ti o n M a c h i n e s Power c o n v e rs io n W o u n d R o to r o r B r u s h le s s D F
R o to r
W o u n d R o to r ( fie ld c o n tr o l)
P e rm a ne n t M agnet
C ag e R o to r M /C
S ta to r
W o u nd
W o un d
W ou n d S m a ll P E c o n v e r te r
G r id c o n n e c t io n
L a rg e P E c o n v e r te r
L a rg e P E c o n v e r te r
L arge P E c o n v e r te r
O u tp u t
E le c tr i c a l E n e r g y S o u r c e F ix e d F re q u e n c y o r D C
III. 4. In the last case a power converter will be used as interface to the grid. The electrical output can either be
ac or dc. WIND ENERGY CONVERSION Wind turbines capture the power from the wind by means of aerodynamically designed blades and convert it to rotating mechanical power. 5. PE: Power Electronics. high-torque power to electrical power is using a gear-box and a standard fixed speed generator as illustrated in Fig. The number of blades is normally three. The most weight efficient way to convert the low-speed. As the blade tip-speed typically should be lower than half the speed of sound the rotational speed will decrease as the radius of the blade increases. The possible technical solutions are many and Fig. IV. It is important to be able to control and limit the converted mechanical power at higher wind speed. some different wind turbine configurations will be presented and compared. It is now proven technology. The conversion of wind power to mechanical power is as mentioned before done aerodynamically. as the power in the wind is a cube of the wind speed.
active stall or by pitch control. They also need a reactive power compensator to reduce (almost eliminate) the reactive power demand from the turbine generators to the grid.50
Reactive compensator (a)
I Induction generator Grid Gearbox
but they are not able very fast (within a few ms) to control the active power. V. a) b) c) Pitch controlled (System I) Stall controlled (System II) Active stall controlled (System III)
Wind speed [m/s] (c)
Fig. The power is limited aerodynamically either by stall. Wind turbine systems without power converter but with aerodynamic power control.turbines with partially rated power electronics (small PE converter in Fig. 6) in order to reduce the inrush current and thereby limit flicker problems on the grid. Furthermore wind-gusts may cause torque pulsations in the drive-drain and load the gear-box significantly. 6 shows different topologies for the first category of wind turbines where the wind turbine speed is fixed. Those solutions are attractive due to cost and reliability
Fig. It is usually done by continuously switching capacitor banks following the production variation (5-25 steps). Power characteristics of fixed speed wind turbines. 6. 5) and the last is the full-scale power electronic interfaced wind turbine systems (large PE converter in Fig.75
Reactive compensator (c)
0. which almost independent of torque variation operate at a fixed speed (variation of 1-2%). 7 shows that by rotating the blades either by pitch or active stall control it is possible precise to limit the power while the measured power for the stall controlled turbine shows a small overshoot.75
Active Stall control
Reactive compensator (b)
0. The basic power characteristics of the three different fixed speed concepts are shown in Fig. 7 where the power is limited aerodynamically.50 0.
. This depends a lot on the final aerodynamic design.25 5 1 1 2 0 5 0 Vindhastighed Wind speed [m/s] [m/s] 2 5 3 0
II Induction generator Grid Gearbox
1 0.25 3 0 5 1 0 1 5 2 0 2 5 3 0
III Induction generator Grid Gear
Wind speed [m/s] (b)
0. 7. a) Stall control b) Active stall control c) Pitch control
The wind turbine systems in Fig. 6 are using induction generators. 8 shows two such solutions. VARIABLE SPEED WIND TURBINES The next category is wind turbines with partially rated power converters and by that improved control performance can be obtained. Fig.75 0. Fig.50 0.
1 0. 5). All three systems are using a soft-starter (not shown in Fig.25 5 1 0 1 5 2 0 2 5 3 0
The last solution needs neither a soft-starter nor a reactive power compensator. The power converter for the rotor resistance control is for low voltage but high currents. Furthermore. This solution still needs a softstarter and a reactive power compensator. A power converter controls the rotor currents. The third category is wind turbines with a full-scale power converter between the generator and grid. 8b. However.
System comparison of wind turbines System Variable speed Control active power Control reactive power Short circuit (fault-active) Short circuit power Control bandwidth Standby function Flicker (sensitive) Softstarter needed Rolling capacity on grid Reactive compensator (C) Island operation Investment Maintenance d No No contribute 1-10 s No Yes Yes Yes. A second solution of using a medium scale power converter with a wounded rotor induction generator is shown in Fig. solutions with full-scale power converters. 8 shows a wind turbine system where the generator is an induction generator with a wounded rotor. but not exhaustive. This is a dynamic slip controller and it gives typically a speed range of 2 .(a)
V Doubly-fed induction generator Grid Gearbox Pitch AC DC Pref Q ref DC AC
(b) Fig. Slip-rings are making the electrical connection to the rotor. A speed variation of ±30 % around synchronous speed can be obtained by the use of a power converter of 30 % of nominal power. An extra resistance is added in the rotor. At the same time an
extra control freedom is obtained at higher wind speeds in order to keep the output power fixed. a) b) Rotor-resistance converter (System IV) Doubly-fed induction generator (System V)
Fig. 8a.5-1 ms Yes ++ No No Yes No Yes 0 +
. and the power electronics is enabling the wind turbine to act as a more dynamic power source to the grid.5-1 ms Yes ++ No No Yes No Yes/No 0 + VII Yes Yes Yes Yes limit 0. If the generator is running super-synchronously electrical power is delivered through both the rotor and the stator. 7 and Fig.5-1 ms Yes ++ No No Yes No Yes/No 0 + VIII Yes Yes Yes Yes limit 0. The solution is naturally a little bit more expensive compared to the classical solutions shown before in Fig. partly Yes No ++ ++ III No Limite d No No contribute 100 ms No Yes Yes Yes. reactive power compensation units as well it is possible to capture more energy from the wind. which are the ultimate solutions technically. it is possible to save money on the safety margin of gear. 8. Wind turbine topologies with partially rated power electronics and limited speed range. 9 shows four possible. it is possible to control both active (Pref) and reactive power (Qref). which is in continuous operation. It gives extra losses in the power conversion but it may be gained by the added technical performance.5-1 ms Yes ++ No No Yes No Yes/No 0 + IX Yes Yes Yes Yes limit 0. which can be controlled by power electronics. partly Yes No ++ ++ o + 0 s contribute 1 ms Yes + No No Yes No Yes/N IV No Limite V Yes Yes Yes No/Ye VI Yes Yes Yes Yes limit 0. partly Yes No ++ ++ I No Limite II No No No No contribute 1-10 s No Yes Yes No Yes No ++ ++ d No No contribute 1-10 s No Yes Yes Yes. which gives a better grid performance.5 %. If the generator is running sub-synchronously electrical power is only delivered into the rotor from the grid. Fig.
having the possibility to lower the power production even though more power is available in the wind and thereby act as a rolling capacity for the power system. 9b needs a small power converter for field excitation. cost. pitch control). 9c and Fig. System I. 9. 9b are characterized by having a gear. III Dynamic slip control (Limited variable speed. All four solutions have the same controllable characteristics since the generator is decoupled from the grid by a dc-link. System V Direct-driven (variable speed operation. where issues on grid control. CONTROL OF WIND TURBINES Controlling a wind turbine involves both fast and slow control. pitch control. More than 75% of all sold wind turbines in 2001 are controlled by power electronics. By introducing power electronics many of the wind turbine systems get a performance like a power plant. The market share in 2001 (Globally and in Germany) between the dominant system topologies is shown Table II.VI Induction generator Gearbox Pitch AC DC DC AC
Synchronous Generator Multi-pole
AC DC Pitch
cost and the performance to the grid. A synchronous generator solution shown in Fig. a) Induction generator with gear (System VI) b) Synchronous generator with gear (System VII) c) Multi-pole synchronous generator (System VIII)
47% 20% 100%
d) Multi-pole permanent magnet synchronous generator (System IX)
The solutions shown in Fig. II. 9 is also indicating other important issues for wind turbines in order to act as a real power source for the grid. which are still becoming cheaper and thereby more attractive. some systems are able to work in island operation in the case of a grid collapse. 9a and Fig. Wind turbine systems with full-scale power converters. internal turbine performance are given. Multi-pole systems with the synchronous generator without a gear are shown in Fig. The last solution is using permanent magnets. 9d. (Source: )
PM-synchronous Generator Multi-pole
AC DC Pitch
Fixed speed (Stall or active stall. Overall the power has to be controlled by means of the aerodynamic system and has to react based on a set-point given by dispatched center or locally with the goal to maximize the production based on the available wind power. System VIII TOTAL
(d) Fig. WIND TURBINE TOPOLOGIES MARKET IN 2002. gearbox). pitch. The reactive power can in some solutions be delivered without having any wind producing active power. Table I shows a technical comparison of the presented wind turbine systems. gearbox). They are able to be active when a fault appears at the grid and where it is necessary to build the grid voltage up again. maintenance. That is even more in 2003. The power converter to the grid enables the system to control active and reactive power very fast. However. the negative side is a more complex system with more sensitive electronic parts. VI. System IV Doubly-fed generator (Variable speed operation.
. Comparing the different wind turbine systems in respect to performance shows a contradiction between
As it can be seen the most sold technology in 2001 is the doubly-fed induction generator system which occupies about 50% of the whole market. Fig. In respect to control performance they are faster but of course the produced real power depends on the available wind. gearbox). Finally.
as it is illustrated in Fig. 11a. A pitch angle controller will limit the power
when the turbine reaches nominal power. Another solution for the electrical power control is to use the multi-pole synchronous generator. 11. a) Doubly-fed induction generator system (System V) b) Multi-pole synchronous PM-generator system (System IX)
The power control system should also be able to limit the power. The control of the grid-side converter is simply just keeping the dc-link voltage fixed. An example of an overall control scheme of a wind turbine with a doubly-fed generator system is shown in Fig. Internal current loops in both converters are used which typically are linear PI-controllers. 10. At very low wind the speed of the turbine will be fixed at the maximum allowable slip in order not to have over voltage. 10.
(b) Fig. Below maximum power production the wind turbine will typically vary the speed proportional with the wind speed and keep the pitch angle fixed. Control of wind turbine with doubly-fed induction generator system [35 ]. Basic control of active and reactive power in a wind turbine . A passive
.Fig. The power converters to the grid-side and the rotor-side are voltage source inverters. The generated electrical power is done by controlling the doubly-fed generator through the rotor-side converter.
OFFSHORE WIND FARM TOPOLOGIES In many countries energy planning is going on with a high penetration of wind energy. so it is possible to operate each wind turbine at an individual optimal speed. These wind farms may in the future present a significant power contribution to the national grid. such as to perform frequency and voltage control. based on voltage source converter technology. VII. 12. Consequently. For certain power level. This solution is shown in Fig. to reduce the power from the nominal power to 20 % power within 2 seconds. may be used in such a system instead of the conventional thyristor based HVDC technology. 12d. which will be covered by large offshore wind farms. where each wind turbine has its own power electronic converter. 12c. Common for both systems are they are able to control reactive to control the reactive power to the grid. The system is industrially used today. One off-shore wind farm equipped with power electronic converters can perform both real and reactive power control and also operate the wind turbines in variable speed to maximize the energy captured as well as reduce the mechanical stress and noise. for example. A grid inverter is interfacing the dc-link to the grid. quick responses under power system transient and dynamic situations. Here it is also possible to control the reactive power to the grid. Common for both systems are they are able to control reactive and active power very fast and thereby the turbine can take part in the power system control. In an HVDC transmission. play an important role on the power quality and the control of power systems. and therefore. an HVDC transmission system.rectifier and a boost converter are used in order to boost the voltage at low speed. the low or medium AC voltage at the wind farm is converted into a high dc voltage on the transmission side and the dc power is transferred to the onshore system where the dc voltage is converted back into ac voltage as shown in Fig. For long distance transmission of power from off-shore wind farm. a) b) c) d) Doubly-fed induction generator system with ac-grid (System A) Induction generator with ac-grid (System B) Speed controlled induction generator with common dc-bus and control of active and reactive power (System C) Speed controlled induction generator with common ac-grid and dc transmission (System D)
. It is possible to control the active power from the generator. 11b. very high technical demands are expected to be met by these generation units. The topology may even be able to vary the speed on the wind turbines in the complete wind farm. The power electronic technology is again an important part in both the system configurations and the control of the offshore wind farms in order to fulfill the future demands. Wind farm solutions. 12a and it is in operation in Denmark as a 160 MW off-shore wind power station. The topology is shown in Fig.
Doubly-fed induction generator ac-grid Gearbox On-shore
Pitch AC DC Pref Qref DC AC
AC DC Pref Qref
• • •
Park B Induction generator Gearbox ac-grid On-shore
Gearbox Pitch/ active stall
Park D Induction generator Gearbox AC DC
• • •
On-shore dc-grid DC AC
Gearbox Pitch / active stall
Park C Induction generator Gearbox AC DC dc-grid On-shore DC AC
• • •
• • •
Fig. A comparison of the topologies is given in Table III. Another possible dc transmission system configuration is shown in Fig. regulation of active and reactive power. HVDC may be an interesting option.
2s No Yes Partly Yes ++ ++
Yes Yes Yes Yes No 10 -100 ms Yes No Yes No + +
No Yes Yes Yes No 10 ms – 10 s Yes No Yes No + +
. CONCLUSIONS The paper discusses the applications of power electronic for the wind turbine technology. 12)
Yes Yes Yes Partly Contribute 10-100 ms Yes No Yes Yes + +
No No Centralized Partly Contribute 200ms . Fig. The applications of power electronics in various kinds of wind turbine generation systems and offshore wind farms are also illustrated. Table IV gives an estimate for the installed wind power in 2010 based on official statements from different European countries. WIND POWER TRENDS The installed power in wind energy has grown rapidly in many years. Annually installed and accumulated
wind power globally. maintenance and reliability. This may be different depending on the planned site. VIII. They are able to act as a contributor to the frequency and voltage control by means of active and reactive power control. This depends of course on location and from experience off-shore wind-farms are able to produce much more energy The influence on the power scaling can also be seen at the prices pr. The power scaling has been an important tool to reduce the price pr. Bottom-line will always be a total cost scenario including production. energy cost rise can
Tabel III. This is illustrated in Fig. the development of wind turbines is illustrated in Fig. 16. m2 swept area pr. It is expected 10 MW wind turbines will be present in 2010. The key to reduce price is to increase the power and today prototype turbines of 4-5 MW are seen around the world being tested. investment. However. year.
(Source: Risoe National Laboratory. . Today more than 45000 MW are installed globally with recently an annual market of 8000 MW. 15. 13. It can be seen that the technology is improving and it is possible to produce more than 900 kWh/m2/year. 13. showing that the wind turbine behavior/performance is very much improved by using power electronics. Comparison of Wind Farms Farm configuration
Individual speed control Control active power electronically Control reactive power Short circuit (active) Short circuit power Control bandwidth Standby-function Softstarter needed Rolling capacity on grid Redundancy Investment Maintenance
Fig. It can be seen that many countries will increase their wind power capacity in large scales. Denmark)
The expectations for the future are also very positive as many countries have progressive plans. In Denmark the installed capacity is expected to approach saturation as the problems of a too high capacity compared to the load level are appearing.
change this. Finally. Some have better abilities than others. Also it can be concluded the power scaling of wind turbines is important in order to be able to reduce the energy cost. kWh.As it can be seen the wind farms have interesting features in order to act as a power source to the grid. 14 shows the average size of the installed wind turbines in Denmark as well as their produced energy pr. The development of modern power electronics has been briefly reviewed. IX. kWh for different wind-turbine sizes in two different landscape classes and it is shown in Fig.
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