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Published on February 11th, 2009 | by Dave Tyler


American Superconductor, DOE to Study Large Wind Turbine Design

February 11th, 2009 by  

A new technology being studied by AMSC could change the way wind turbines are made

American Superconductor Corp. (NASDAQ: AMSC) says it has entered into a 12-month partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy to find a way to make production of a full 10 megawatt class superconductor wind turbine economically attractive.

AMSC, based near Worcester, Mass.,  will work with DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and its National Wind Technology Center to study the economic impact and costs of AMSC’s turbine model. The company says its direct drive wind generator systems use high temperature superconductor wire instead of copper wire for the generator’s rotor, and are expected to be much smaller, lighter and more efficient than conventional turbine design.

AMSC says a 10 MW turbine using its technology would weigh 120 metric tons, versus 300 metric tons for current designs.The designs are based on technology AMSC has developed for ship motors.

Turbine power ratings have been increasing,  conventional technology has topped out at a rating of about 6 MW  per turbine due partly to limitations on the size and weight of what can safely be transported on roads to construct towers. Superconductor wire turbines would help solve that issue, the company says.

With wind power use growing and questions about the transmission of wind energy being addressed as well, technology such as AMSC’s could be an important addition leading to even wider adoption of wind power.  Large turbines could also boost sales for AMSC, which could use the additional revenue. It will be interesting to see what emerges from this project.

Photo Credit: Jeff Kubina’s Flickr photostream, via a Creative Commons license


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About the Author

Dave has over a decade of experience in journalism covering a wide variety of topics. He spent 7 years on the business beat for the Rochester (N.Y) Democrat and Chronicle, covering technology issues including the state's growing green economy. When he's not writing, you'll find Dave enjoying his family, being a bit of a music snob, and praying that the Notre Dame football team can get its act together. He lives in Rochester.

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