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Superconductors for Wind Farms

American Superconductor Corporation, recently announced that it is providing its D-VAR® (Dynamic Volt-Ampere-Reactive) reactive power compensation system to Canada’s largest wind farm developer, Vision Quest Windelectric.

The D-VAR system will provide reactive power support and regulate voltage at the Summerview wind farm, which is located approximately 100 miles south of Calgary, Alberta.

AMSC’s D-VAR system will enable the wind farm to meet the voltage control standards required for interconnection to the regional power grid - the Alberta Interconnected Electricity System.

“Our wind farm required a reactive power and voltage control system to help ensure that the wind farm can operate in full compliance with transmission grid standards,” said Kevin Van Koughnett, Vice President, Resources and Regulatory Affairs at Vision Quest. “American Superconductor worked closely with our engineers and with Vestas to develop a voltage control system for our wind farm. In addition they assisted in meetings with the transmission ISO, which was very helpful in achieving a compliant solution.”

The application will include a D-VAR system and capacitor banks controlled by the D-VAR system. The D-VAR system will augment the reactive power compensation capabilities of the wind farm’s Vestas ( turbines.

Phase 1 of the Summerview wind farm will include 38 Vestas V80 1.8 Megawatt (MW) turbines generating up to 68.4 MW. When completed, the project will cover approximately 7,000 acres and is expected to generate about 130 MW of electric power, enough energy to supply more than 55,000 homes in southern Alberta.

According to the European Wind Energy Association, world-wide wind power generation is expected to grow more than 26% annually from 31,000 MW in 2002 to 230,000 MW by 2010.

“In the wake of the outages in August 2003, the electric power industry was keenly reminded of the central role that reactive power plays in ensuring voltage stability and service reliability,” said Chuck Stankiewicz, vice president and general manager of the Power Electronic Systems business unit at American Superconductor. “Our D-VAR systems provide rapid, dynamic reactive power compensation that helps stabilize voltage, enables seamless grid interconnection and makes wind power a more reliable generation source.”

The D-VAR systems provide dynamic reactive power compensation and are effective, economic, and flexible solutions that enable wind farms to seamlessly interconnect to the transmission grid.

AMSC’s D-VAR systems help ensure grid reliability and voltage stability by providing dynamic reactive power support. Reactive power, which is measured in VARs (Volt-Ampere-Reactive), can be used to control voltage ("pressure") for the transmission of "real power," which is measured in Watts.

D-VAR systems can be installed in existing electrical substations, as well as at wind farm grid interconnection points where they continuously monitor voltage, and provide real time reactive power support and power factor correction.

By dynamically responding in milliseconds, D-VAR systems stabilize grid voltage, and can correct voltage stability problems. This not only improves reliability, but in some applications can also significantly increase the power throughput of existing transmission infrastructure.

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