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Extending the Life of Gear Box in Wind Generators by Smoothing Transient Torque With STATCOM

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3 Author(s)
Marta Molinas ; Department of Electrical Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway ; Jon Are Suul ; Tore Undeland

Gearboxes for wind turbines must ensure high reliability over a period of 20 years, withstanding cumulative and transient loads. One main challenge to this is represented by electromagnetic torque transients caused by grid faults and disturbances, which will result in significant stresses and fatigue of the gearbox. Possibilities for limiting the torque transients in fixed-speed wind generators have not been previously reported. This paper presents a technique by which the transient torques during recovery after a grid fault can be smoothed in a wind farm with induction generators directly connected to the grid. A model-based control technique using the quasi-stationary equivalent circuit of the system is suggested for controlling the torque with a static synchronous compensator (STATCOM). The basis of the approach consists of controlling the induction generator terminal voltage by the injection/absorption of reactive current using the STATCOM. By controlling the terminal voltage as a function of the generator speed during the recovery process, the electromagnetic torque of the generator is indirectly controlled, in order to reduce the drive train mechanical stresses caused by the characteristics of the induction machine when decelerating through the maximum torque region. The control concept is shown by time-domain simulations, where the smoothing effect of the proposed technique on a wind turbine is seen during the recovery after a three-phase-to-ground-fault condition. The influence of the shaft stiffness in a multimass drive train model is discussed, and the performance of the control concept in the case of parallel connection of several turbines is investigated to discuss the applicability in a wind farm.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics  (Volume:57 ,  Issue: 2 )