Lowestoft, UK — Generator company Trident Energy has demonstrated real-time control of a low cost linear generator designed for wave energy applications.
Claiming a global first, Trident says the breakthrough control technology allows for adaptation to changing wave conditions in real time.
One of the key challenges for commercial success of any wave energy converter is to provide useful power output across a wide range of sea conditions with waves which are continually changing. However, once designed and constructed, the only means of altering the performance of a wave energy device is with the control system. Being able to tune the device can greatly improve the energy captured, especially if done on a wave-by-wave basis. The ability to control a device in real-time therefore becomes an important enabling technology for the commercialisation of wave energy.
Trident Energy has developed, demonstrated and patented a direct drive linear generator and associated control system that can alter the resistance the generator offers to motion in real-time as well as the ability to instantaneously operate as a motor, according to the company. This functionality opens the door to operation as a highly tuneable damper and spring.
Demonstrating real-time control of their full-scale linear generator at their test facility in Lowestoft, Suffolk, in the UK, Trident says the technology could also be applied to offshore wind turbine applications to meet their demand for auxiliary power, reducing the need for offshore refuelling and associated costs and health and safety implications.
Commenting, Steve Packard, CEO of Trident Energy said: “We are delighted to have developed an enabling technology that can benefit the offshore wind industry with reduced costs and greater safety.”
Among those making key contributions are the University of Cambridge, Rockwell Automation, Westbury Control Systems, RJW Engineering and Small & Co.
Rob Haynes, Power & Energy Account Manager, Rockwell Automation said: “Through our system integrators we have been able to supply a scalable solution utilising a suite of standard Rockwell Automation control, visualisation and I/O components to achieve Trident Energy’s desired result. The same architecture can be expanded to allow for greater power production and will assist Trident Energy as they progress with the commercialisation of their linear generator.”
Trident Energy says it will now focus on delivering an offshore demonstration of the real-time control of a linear generator.
Images: Linear generator and test rig, via Trident Energy