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Go Behind the Scenes: Maxwell in Wind Energy (VIDEO)

Go Behind the Scenes: Maxwell in Wind Energy (VIDEO)

| Marty Mills, Regional Sales Manager

I consider it a great pleasure to work amongst those in the wind industry. The wind community is a very supportive one in which wind farm operators, OEMs, wind technicians, policymakers, and utilities work together to discover and develop the best pathways forward to ensure that this industry thrives and becomes more competitive.

This spirit of camaraderie was apparent at the spring American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Windpower conference where the industry comes together each year to discuss pressing challenges and discover new technologies and strategies for resolving them. 

I had the opportunity to participate in the below interview with Michelle Froese, senior editor with Windpower Engineering & Development, to discuss the key benefits of ultracapacitor (supercapacitor) energy storage for the emergency pitch control system of the wind turbine.

In my many conversations with site managers and wind technicians, I hear the same story quite often: lead-acid batteries for the pitch control system often don’t provide reliable, consistent performance over the life of the turbine. I have visited dozens of wind farms, which is the only way to see and fully understand the problems that wind technicians face on a regular basis. Wind farm site personnel have too many things to worry about without adding on the additional burden of troubleshooting battery system problems or having to schedule turbine climbs to replace batteries.

My passion for Maxwell’s technology comes from seeing that it makes a significant difference for the wind farms I work with. Maxwell’s ultracapacitor energy storage for the pitch system performs extraordinarily well in frigid winters as well as in sweltering hot summers. A primary reason for failed batteries is their susceptibility to temperatures extending out of their narrower operating range.

Because ultracapacitors store energy in an electric field, rather than in a chemical reaction, they are able to charge and discharge at the rates needed for emergency pitch control. Once the ultracapacitors are fully charged upon installation, the recharge time is a matter of minutes.

In terms of lifetime, ultracapacitors surpass batteries due to their robust nature, allowing them to perform in a wide range of temperature conditions and to endure many charge/discharge cycles. This has a direct impact on reducing the number of turbine climbs for battery-related pitch faults and reducing the need for battery system component replacements.

Climbing a wind turbine requires a strict process involving several steps and has inherent safety risks for the technicians who climb, no matter how conscientious they may be in terms of following safety procedures. For these reasons, wind farm operators are retrofitting their turbines with ultracapacitor energy storage modules. When you know you’ve got backup power at the top of your wind turbine that doesn’t require constant checkups or replacements, it brings some peace-of-mind to that aspect of the job.

This year’s AWEA was energizing and I always come away from it with more reasons to have a positive outlook on the wind industry’s success and profitability. Thanks for checking out my interview.

NEXT: U.S. Wind Farm Cuts O&M Costs, Reduces Number of Turbine Climbs with Maxwell’s Ultracapacitor Energy Storage Solution

JessicaMarty Mills
Regional Sales Manager


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