Optimized Generator Designs for the DTU 10-MW Offshore Wind Turbine using GeneratorSE: Preprint

Latha Sethuraman, Michael Maness, Katherine Dykes

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Compared to land-based applications, offshore wind imposes challenges for the development of next generation wind turbine generator technology. Direct-drive generators are believed to offer high availability, efficiency, and reduced operation and maintenance requirements; however, previous research suggests difficulties in scaling to several megawatts or more in size. The resulting designs are excessively large and/or massive, which are major impediments to transportation logistics, especially for offshore applications. At the same time, geared wind turbines continue to sustain offshore market growth through relatively cheaper and lightweight generators. However, reliability issues associated with mechanical components in a geared system create significant operation and maintenance costs, and these costs make up a large portion of overall system costs offshore. Thus, direct-drive turbines are likely to outnumber their gear-driven counterparts for this market, and there is a need to review the costs or opportunities of building machines with different types of generators and examining their competitiveness at the sizes necessary for the next generation of offshore wind turbines. In this paper, we use GeneratorSE, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's newly developed systems engineering generator sizing tool to estimate mass, efficiency, and the costs of different generator technologies satisfying the electromagnetic, structural, and basic thermal design requirements for application in a very large-scale offshore wind turbine such as the Technical University of Denmark's (DTU) 10-MW reference wind turbine. For the DTU reference wind turbine, we use the previously mentioned criteria to optimize a direct-drive, radial flux, permanent-magnet synchronous generator; a direct-drive electrically excited synchronous generator; a medium-speed permanent-magnet generator; and a high-speed, doubly-fed induction generator. Preliminary analysis of leveled costs of energy indicate that for large turbines, the cost of permanent magnets and reliability issues associated with brushes in electrically excited machines are the biggest deterrents for building direct-drive systems. The advantage of medium-speed permanent-magnet machines over doubly-fed induction generators is evident, yet, variability in magnet prices and solutions to address reliability issues associated with gearing and brushes can change this outlook. This suggests the need to potentially pursue fundamentally new innovations in generator designs that help avoid high capital costs but still have significant reliability related to performance.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages21
StatePublished - 2017
EventAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics 35th Wind Energy Symposium - Grapevine, Texas
Duration: 9 Jan 201713 Jan 2017


ConferenceAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics 35th Wind Energy Symposium
CityGrapevine, Texas

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5000-67444


  • doubly fed induction
  • electrically excited
  • permanent magnet
  • synchronous


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