A new type of generator for wind turbines promises to increase the range of wind speeds across which they generate electricity efficiently. The system, developed by ExRo Technologies of Vancouver, uses stacks of copper coils that can be activated and deactivated individually. That means the generator is capable of deriving small amounts of power from slow winds and larger amounts from faster winds. Crucially, the system also allows that to occur without the use of any moving parts: decreasing the cost and increasing the reliability.
For now, the company has only tested a laboratory-scale prototype. They are now aiming to scale up the technology for use in large multi-megawatt wind turbines. In some cases, it may even be economically efficient to install the new generators in existing wind turbines.
One reason for which the technology looks promising is that it could decrease the variance in power output from wind farms, decreasing the need to balance times of low output using energy storage or alternative forms of generation.