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American Superconductor Corporation (AMSC) has announced that it has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and its National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) to validate the economics of a full 10MW class superconductor wind turbine.
AMSC is separately developing full 10MW-class wind turbine component and system designs. Under the 12-month program, AMSC Windtec, a wholly owned subsidiary of AMSC, will analyze the cost of a full 10MW-class superconductor wind turbine, which will include a direct drive superconductor generator and all other components, including the blades, hub, power electronics, nacelle, tower and controls. The NWTC will then benchmark and evaluate the wind turbine's economic impact, both in terms of its initial cost and its overall cost of energy. Direct drive wind generator systems utilizing high temperature superconductor (HTS) wire instead of copper wire for the generator's rotor are expected to be much smaller, lighter, more efficient and more reliable than conventional generators and gearboxes. The superconductor generators that are to be utilized for 10MW-class superconductor wind turbines are based on technology AMSC has developed for superconductor ship propulsion motors and generators under contracts with the U.S. Navy.

Concurrent with the CRADA, AMSC and TECO-Westinghouse Motor Company (TWMC) have been working on a project since October 2007 to develop HTS and related technologies for 10 megawatt-class direct drive wind generators under an award from the National Institute of Science and Technology’s Advanced Technology Program (ATP).?? The CRADA and ATP programs are intended to serve as a prelude to follow-on programs aimed at building and testing a full-scale prototype superconductor wind turbine, prior to commercialization.
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