Northern Power Systems Introduces Utility-Scale 2.3 MW Wind Turbine

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Northern Power Systems Inc. has introduced a 2.3 MW utility-scale permanent magnet direct-drive (PMDD) wind turbine, and the company hopes to repeat the success it has had with its 100 kW version.

‘Our track record from our 100 and the real deep experience that Northern Power has with permanent magnet direct-drive wind turbines has really drawn a lot of attention to this 2.3 MW machine,’ John Danner, CEO and president of Northern Power Systems, tells NAW from the EWEA 2011 conference in Brussels, where the turbine was introduced.

Danner says direct-drive wind turbines are more reliable, efficient and require less maintenance, but are much heavier than geared machines and, therefore, more expensive to build.

‘The incorporation of the permanent magnets allows us to reduce the size of the direct-drive turbine to about one-third, and therefore, we’re able to make it the same weight – or even a bit lighter – than a comparable geared turbine,’ he explains, adding that the reduction in weight also lowers the price.

Barre, Vt.-based Northern Power Systems has spent 10 years developing its first utility-scale wind turbine. A 1.5 MW turbine was tested at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which evolved into a 2.2 MW machine. However, the machine’s performance exceeded expectations, so it was uprated to 2.3 MW.

NREL’s U.S. National Wind Technology Center also performed full-power verification testing in 2010 of the Northern Power 2.3.

‘The marketplace was moving toward larger turbines onshore, and we thought the 2.2 [MW] would be much more competitive than the 1.5 MW,’ says Danner. ‘Now, we’re even more pleased with the 2.3 – we think it’s the right size for the marketplace.’

The 2.3 MW turbine is designed for Class 2A wind regimes and is ideal for all conditions and terrains, including low and high temperatures and terrains, and near shore applications.

Danner says the larger wind turbine’s technology is based on the 100 kW model, which has early experience in cold climates.

‘Our 100 kW direct-drive machine was really commercialized and really cut its teeth in Alaska, which has an incredibly remote and incredibly rugged environment, where we handled very high winds and very cold temperatures,’ he notes.

Northern Power Systems successfully installed and commissioned a prototype of the 2.3 MW turbine in McBain, Mich. The turbine, which was manufactured at the company’s facility in Saginaw, Mich., was installed at Heritage Sustainable Energy’s Stoney Corners wind farm. Most of the power from this project is being sold to DTE Energy’s voluntary renewable energy program, according to Heritage.

Northern Power plans to market its new turbine in the U.S. and Europe, where its 100 kW machine has been successful, especially through financing with the U.S. Export-Import Bank. Danner says the company plans to expand its financing relationship with the bank for the 2.3 MW turbine.

‘They’ve agreed to start working with us on export of the utility-scale turbine as well,’ he says.

The company is also looking to Asia and eventually plans to seek partners in countries such as China, India and Korea.

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