Today’s wind turbines are big and heavy, which makes them costly to build and maintain – especially when they are installed offshore. To make turbines more efficient, the European Union just launched SUPRAPOWER, a four-year project led by Tecnalia in Spain that includes nine other industry and science partners across Europe. The initiative is researching superconductor technology to develop a next-gen wind turbine that could cut manufacturing costs by 30%.
The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology‘s Cryogenic Engineering Division is focusing on reducing the size of wind turbines using superconductors. Below a certain temperature superconductors have no electrical resistance and conduct electricity without a loss. The researchers are developing a rotating cryostat that will cool superconducting coils to minus 253 degrees, ensuring the highest efficiency of the coils and thereby reducing the size, weight and cost of turbines.
The SUPRAPOWER team’s main objective for the first year is to validate the modular rotating cryostat concept. It will then go on to produce a conceptual design of the superconductor scale generator. The project will design, construct, and test super conducting dummy coils in the lab before launching them out in the field. SUPRAPOWER’s overall goal is to maximize wind turbine efficiency in order to meet the EU’s goal of cutting emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020.