Fairford puts wind in generator’s sales

01 February 2007

Wind turbines have been given a boost with soft starter technology from Fairford Electronics Limited.

The company is supplying its QFE range of soft starters for use in wind turbines and claims to remove the problems of direct-on-line starting by synchronising operation of the turbines to distribution networks.

The soft starters are designed to synchronise the output of the turbine generator to power networks without massive inrush currents on the supply, and without the harsh shocks that can damage and break mechanical equipment such as bearings, couplings and gears.

When the wind generator, under the action of its aerodynamic rotor, reaches a point just below synchronous speed (approximately 93%) the QFE soft starter comes into operation. In reverse, the unit is used to put the generator on line. It ramps the generator voltage up to the system voltage, and as the generator accelerates further to synchronous speed, a by-pass contactor is closed by the wind turbine controller (WTC), once it has received a top of ramp signal from the soft starter unit.

The wind turbine’s power factor capacitors are connected when the by-pass contactor is closed and the turbine rotor then accelerates the generation up to a greater than synchronous speed allowing generation to begin.

Nigel Follett, sales and marketing manager, said: “Having led the development of the soft starter since the late seventies, it is appropriate that Fairford is taking the technology to new and developing industry sectors.”

He added: “With our involvement in wind energy systems, we are demonstrating the relevance of our soft starters to a still evolving method of power generation, proving that existing technology can still provide answers even in today’s fast developing markets.”

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