The power industry is full of amazing technical and engineering feats. Take for example a giant offshore wind turbine – its blade is as long as the length of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet. Today we see them emerge from the sea to capture wind power at utility scale. Wind blows, blades turn and homes are lit. It may seem like a simple concept, but the engineering expertise involved from conception to installation is vast.
As wind power pushes to reduce the cost of energy, manufacturers have increasingly sought to increase the size of these turbines; the bigger they are, the more power they can extract from the wind.
A myriad of complex and often tiny components all working together are vital for transforming this wind energy into electricity and as the turbine grows in size, these components must work even harder. Looking specifically at converters, they must deliver far more power capability in large wind turbines compared to smaller ones. Using a higher density power stack is vital to enabling the converter to remain small in size while delivering more power.
Acknowledging this industry need, GE Power Conversion created the LV3 power stack which has increased density, reaching 1250 amps compared to previous offerings of 1000 amps. Looking at the wind sector in particular, when implanted at the heart of GE’s LV3 converter, it creates up to 25% more power given same wind converter footprint, helping to improve levelized cost of energy (LCOE).
The LV3 was born out of multiple successful power module platforms – proven technologies developed by GE over the years. Yet, this next generation power module has even more flexibility and reliability thanks to a single modular design, which can benefit the industry in a number of ways:
The versatility to use the LV3 Stacks across different sectors, including wind, tidal and solar, helps to develop a global engineering community, which is able to address and fix issues across multiple industrial segments. Use of the same component across segments allows engineers to gain a vast understanding and knowledge of its performance, enabling them to continuously push the design limits while maintaining reliability for customers.
Furthermore, working with proven modular building blocks increases components’ speed to market, allowing more predictable costs with mature technology and proven performance.
Speed of training
Having several different types of converters means that engineers must be trained to fix and replace hundreds of different parts. Standardizing all power stacks so that the same converter is used throughout reduces the amount of training each engineer must undertake. Engineers are therefore equipped with the necessary skills faster, wasting no time to prepare themselves to get out in the field.
Easier inventory management
For each supplier, managing inventory for various different parts can be difficult, time consuming and costly. Creating one standardized product leads to easier inventory management.
In addition, standardizing the power stacks can also result in similar parts being used in greater volumes across different sites and sectors, which can contribute to further cost savings.
Use of one standardized power stack across different segments means that if there is a component failure, the necessary parts will be made readily available – alongside an expert engineer – across the world. This can significantly reduce downtime and result in better availability to customers through speeding up delivery times.
What’s more, as additional applications are developed from the same standardized building blocks, it’s easier for engineers and service teams to re-use existing procedures and troubleshooting tools to address potential issues, simplifying service and maintenance procedures while lowering overall cost of ownership.
The global demand for clean, renewable energy is rising and the reliability of renewables is crucial. In the future, LV3 power stacks will be at the core of GE Power Conversion’s low-voltage converters. It will continue to offer improved reliability, increased availability and drive down operational expenses – ultimately lowering the cost of energy for the end user – across multiple industrial segments.