Published on June 1st, 2012 | by April Streeter1
Gearless wind power in Norway
wind power | Norway’s wind potential is the best in Northern Europe, but the country’s ability to build a solid domestic wind industry has been continually hampered by bureaucratic sluggishness. That said, homegrown wind innovator ChapDrive, which makes a ‘gearless’drivetrain for turbines, has been able to continually wow investors and secure successive rounds of funding. Last month ChapDrive got an additional €1.7m to commercialize a second generation of hydraulic drive, designed for large (5MW) turbines.
ChapDrive’s technology would make the nacelle (area at the center of the blades where many internal components are located) much lighter than in a conventional turbine, and also more reliable. In the lifetime of a turbine, the weight difference can add up to significant increased profits, ChapDrive said.
“ChapDrive’s evaluations indicate a ‘cost-of-energy’ reduction of up to 20 percent seen over the 20 years expected lifetime of a wind project,” said CEO Jens Anders Jensen. Hydraulic drivetrains have not typically been used in wind turbines, as they were not considered efficient enough. Jensen explained that ChapDrive’s innovation is in its components; a patented high-efficiency drivetrain coupled with a high-voltage synchronous generator. That means none of the things – mechanical gearbox, frequency converter, transformer, and permanent magnets – usually required in a turbine are necessary in a ChapDrive system.
ChapDrive has argued that its hydraulic system could reduce the nacelle’s weight by as much as 50 percent in a large 5MW turbine, and could be especially relevant in the future floating turbine technology Norway has made much of and invested in. The single ‘Hywind’ floating turbine off the Norwegian coast has generated 15MW of energy and thus far survived battering waves and sea storms.