Magnetic levitation is an important new development to reduce stress from the mechanical load on the wind turbine. That such development was first announced in China is indicative of a new mandate for renewable energy from Beijing.
Clean Break tells us that in China engineers have demonstrated a full-permanent magnetic levitation wind power generator. Worldwatch Institute is heralding the announcement as a key breakthrough in the evolution of global wind power technology.
Guokun Li, chief of Zhongke Energy and lead developer on the project, made a presentation about the new magnetic levitation generator at the Wind Power Asia Exhibition 2006 held June 28 in Beijing. The new wind power technology was the result of collaboration between Guangzhou Energy Research Institute, under China’s Academy of Sciences, and Guangzhou Zhongke Hengyuan Energy Science & Technology Co., Ltd.
Li stated that he expected “Maglev” to boost wind energy generating capacity by as much as 20 percent over traditional wind turbines, which could cut operational expenses in half. Another feature was the ability of the “Maglev” to utilize winds with starting speeds as low as 1.5 meters per second (m/s), and cut-in speeds of 3 m/s, which Li anticipated could keep overall cost under 0.4 yuan ($US 5 cents) per killowatt. “When compared with the operational hours of existing wind turbines, the new technology will add an additional 1,000 hours of operation annually to wind power plants in areas with an average wind speed of 3 m/s.”
According to Worldwatch researcher Janet Sawin, global sales of wind power equipment reached $10 billion in 2004 and are estimated to reach $49 billion per year by 2012. Not known as a wind energy market in comparison with Europe or North America, observers see this announcement as part of intensification by China’s national government in the development of renewable energy resources.
Instead of single permanent magnets, magnetic levitation uses Halbach arrays.