Power conversion for a modular lightweight direct-drive wind turbine generator

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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A power conversion system for a modular lightweight direct-drive wind turbine
generator has been proposed, based on a modular cascaded multilevel voltage-source inverter. Each module of the inverter is connected to two generator coils, which eliminates the problem of DC-link voltage balancing found in multilevel inverters with a large number of levels.The slotless design of the generator, and modular inverter, means that a high output voltage can be achieved from the inverter, while using standard components in the modules. Analysis of the high voltage issues shows that isolating the modules to a high voltage is easily possible, but insulating the generator coils could result in a signicant increase in the airgap size, reducing the generator effciency. A boost rectier input to the modules was calculated to have the highest electrical effciency of all the rectier systems tested, as well as the highest annual power extraction, while having a competitive cost. A rectier control system, based on estimating the generator EMF from the coil current and drawing a sinusoidal current in phase with the EMF, was developed. The control system can mitigate the problem of airgap eccentricity, likely to be present in a lightweight generator. A laboratory test rig was developed, based on two 2.5kW generators, with 12 coils each. A single phase of the inverter, with 12 power modules, was implemented, with each module featuring it's own microcontroller. The system is able to produce a good quality AC voltage waveform, and is able to tolerate the fault of a single module during operation. A decentralised inverter control system was developed, based on all modules estimating the grid voltage position and synchronising their estimates. Distributed output current limiting was also implemented, and the system is capable of riding through grid faults.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Newcastle
  • Ran, Li, Supervisor, External person
Thesis sponsors
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • direct-drive wind turbine generator
  • wind turbine generator
  • power conversion


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