Scaling up wind turbine power by employing superconductivity

January 21st, 2013 by Elhuyar Fundazioa

SUPRAPOWER is an EU FP7 founded research project focused on a major innovation in offshore wind turbine technology by developing a new compact superconductor-based generator.

The project aims to design an innovative, lightweight, robust and reliable 10 MW class offshore wind turbine based on a superconducting generator, taking into account all the essential aspects of electric conversion, integration and manufacturability.

Today’s geared as well as direct-drive permanent magnet generators are difficult to scale up further. Their huge size and weight drives up the cost of both fixed and floating foundations as well as operation and maintenance cost.

New solutions to provide better power scalability, weight reduction and reliability are needed.

Superconductivity may be the only technology able to combine such features and allow scaling to 10 MW and beyond by radical reduction of the head mass.


  • reduce turbine head mass, size and cost of offshore wind turbines by about 30% by developing a compact superconducting generator.
  • reduce O&M and transportation costs and increase turbine generator longevity by using an innovative direct drive system.
  • increase the reliability and efficiency of high power wind turbines by means of drive-train specific integration in the nacelle.

Tecnalia Research & Innovation has spent 4 years developing the technology and has patented the concept.

Now it has assembled a top-class European consortium from seven countries.

They include industrial partners Acciona Wind Power, a wind turbine manufacturer; ACCIONA Energia, an energy company; Columbus Superconductors, a SME superconducting wire developer; Oerlikon-Leybold Vacuum (OLV), a cryogenic systems supplier; and D2M Engineering, an offshore engineering company.

The Institute of Electrical Engineering, Slovak Academy of Sciences, with experience in superconductivity; the University of Southampton; and the Karlsruher Institut Technologie in Germany are the project’s research partners.

The main outcome of the project will be a superconducting generator able to be scaled in wind turbines up to power levels of 10 MW and beyond.


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