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ABB helps test the limits of wind power

14 June 2011

An ABB multidrive system is enabling one of the world’s leading wind turbine research centres to conduct highly accelerated life tests on wind turbine components.

The system simulates the punishing conditions that wind turbines are subjected to during their long 25-year operating life.

The multidrive system is installed at the wind turbine test laboratory of the National Renewable Energy Center (CENER) in northern Spain, one of the world’s leading research centres for renewable energy.

One of CENER’s six priority research areas is wind power, for which it claims to have the most modern laboratories and facilities in Europe, including a new wind turbine test laboratory.

The 30,000 square metre wind turbine laboratory comprises five test centres in which turbine blades, powertrains and composite materials are tested on behalf of manufacturers, wind farm developers, finance institutions and other industry players.

One of the five test centres at the laboratory is for powertrains. This laboratory contains a series of test benches for testing the main turbine components, including the powertrain (shaft, gearbox, brakes and brake pads), generators, converters and nacelle.

There, the components are subjected to highly accelerated life tests that run 24 hours a day for months at a time in order to simulate the mechanical, electrical and thermal stress that the components will face during a 25-year life cycle.

The technology that powers and controls these test benches and enables them to perform the demanding highly accelerated life tests is an ABB multidrive system, comprising transformers, induction motors, an ACS 6000 variable-speed drive, and an AC 800PEC high performance controller that simulates the wind conditions.

The ACS 6000 multidrive controls the motors that power the test benches. It provides load and stress to simulate the long operating life of the turbine components, and it acts as a network simulator that generates the required frequency and absorbs the electrical energy back into the multidrive.

The ACS 6000 is a modular medium voltage drive designed for single motor or multi-motor applications in demanding applications like rolling mills, marine propulsion systems, mine hoists and high-power test benches.

Launched in 1999, the ACS 6000 is one of the world’s most successful multidrives for medium voltage applications. Its multidrive capability, modular design and powerful direct torque control (DTC) motor control platform – which provides the highest torque and speed performance ever achieved in medium voltage drives - are among the key reasons for its success.

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