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Title: Demonstration of variable speed permanent magnet generator at small, low-head hydro site

Small hydro developers face a limited set of bad choices when choosing a generator for a small low-head hydro site. Direct drive synchronous generators are expensive and technically complex to install. Simpler induction generators are higher speed, requiring a speed increaser, which results in inefficiencies and maintenance problems. In addition, both induction and synchronous generators turn at a fixed speed, causing the turbine to run off its peak efficiency curve whenever the available head is different than the designed optimum head.The solution to these problems is the variable speed Permanent Magnet Generators (PMG). At the Weisenberger Mill in Midway, KY, a variable speed Permanent Magnet Generator has been installed and demonstrated. This new PMG system replaced an existing induction generator that had a HTD belt drive speed increaser system. Data was taken from the old generator before it was removed and compared to data collected after the PMG system was installed. The new variable speed PMG system is calculated to produce over 96% more energy than the old induction generator system during an average year. This significant increase was primarily due to the PMG generator operating at the correct speed at the maximum head, and the ability for the PMGmore » generator to reduce its speed to lower optimum speeds as the stream flow increased and the net head decreased.This demonstration showed the importance of being able to adjust the speed of fixed blade turbines. All fixed blade turbines with varying net heads could achieve higher efficiencies if the speed can be matched to the optimum speed as the head changes. In addition, this demonstration showed that there are many potential efficiencies that could be realized with variable speed technology at hydro sites where mismatched turbine and generator speeds result in lower power output, even at maximum head. Funding for this project came from the US Dept. of Energy, through Award Number DE-EE0005429.« less
  1. Shaker Landing Hydro Associates, Inc., Louisville, KY (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Final Report: DOE - WEISENBERGER-- EE0005429-1
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Weisenberger Mills, Inc., Midway, KY (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Wind and Water Technologies Office (EE-4W)
Contributing Orgs:
Shaker Landing Hydro Associates, Inc., Louisville, KY (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States
13 HYDRO ENERGY Permanent Magnet Generator; Variable Speed Drive