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This study presents a rugged and cost-effective scheme for start-up and operation of a stand-alone squirrel cage induction machine (SCIG) for a wind energy conversion system (WECS). A voltage source converter (VSC) directly interfaces the SCIG with an equivalent dc load network, which could also be the DC link of an inverter. The VSC dc bus is supported by an electrolytic capacitor and the proposed scheme ensures reliable start up with these rudimentary components. The dc bus voltage is ramped to the rated value from a small initial voltage produced by remanent magnetism of the SCIG core. Subsequently, the load is applied. The V/f control paradigm for motoring operation is suitably extended to the SCIG for controlling both voltage build-up and dynamic transients. A controller is specifically designed to maintain constant dc bus voltage under wind speed and electrical load variations. Steady-state machine flux is maintained constant up to the base speed, which maximises machine utilisation and power extraction especially at higher wind speeds. The overall system modelling and analytical control design is presented. The proposed control strategy has been validated through simulation and experimentally verified on a low power (2.2 kW) laboratory prototype.