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May 24, 2008

A New Wind Generator Feature


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Picture by Tony Zech
stolen via a German crane forum

The picture shows the last big task in the installation of a new type of Enercon E-82 wind generators. This is not a bigger-is-better one. The rotor diameter is only 82 meters (270 feet), but it has a neat new feature.

Enercon generators have no gears. The turning motion of the rotor is directly transferred into electricity via a nearly frictionless annular generator. The moving part of the generator consist of perma magnets and the static part, the stator, is a ring of copper wires. When the rotation of the perma magnets induces energy into the stator, a part of that energy also heats the copper wires. This heating effect is undesired as it reduces the electricity generation capacity and can lead to isolation problems or even fires.

The new type of E-82s avoids that problem. Its stator is water-cooled in a closed loop system and in the picture above one can see the heat exchangers of the cooloing system on the front top of the machine house. You can see details by this scrolling down this page.

Normal E-82's have 2 megawatts output. This water-cooled version will generate 3 megawatts. That is quite a jump in output for adding a relative simple feature.

You will not find Enercon wind generators in the United States.

As wikipedia writes:

Enercon was prohibited from exporting their wind turbines to the US until 2010 due to infringement of U.S. Patent 5,083,039. [...] Enercon claims their intellectual property was stolen by Kenetech (US Windpower, Inc.) and patented in the US before they could do so. Kenetech made similar claims against Enercon.

According to the European Parliament: "Kenetech seeking evidence for legal action against Enercon for breach of patent rights on the grounds that Enercon had obtained commercial secrets illegally. According to an NSA employee, detailed information concerning Enercon was passed on to Kenetech via ECHELON."

It is a longer story going back to the early 1990s. It is alleged, though not proven, that the CIA 'aquired' the technical information which was patented in the U.S. by Kenetech. Later the NSA was involved to 'prove' that Enercon was in breach of that Kenetech patent.

The NSA listened in to Enercon communication and 'aquired' codes needed to enter and shut down Enercon wind generators. Some folks on Kenetech's payroll used these codes and then climbed up into the machine house of one Enercon generator in Germany. There they took plenty of pictures. These pictures were used against Enercon in the U.S. patent case by Kenetech.

Who needs enemies when one has such allies?

Posted by b on May 24, 2008 at 01:50 PM | Permalink

Comments

There are plenty of technologies that have been thwarted by these patent fights. I know of similar issues involving desalinization using semi-permeable membranes. Somehow this aspect of capitalism never gets mentioned in discussions of the triumph of the marketplace.

Posted by: biklett | May 24, 2008 3:35:19 PM | 1

I think the point of the post was about Echelon. there used to be quite a buzz about that a few years ago and then it kind of became an issue overcome by events.

though the supposed purpose of echelon was to allow domestic spy agencies to spy upon their own citizens (against the law in most cases) by letting other allies spy upon them and then having those allies pass the information to them, it was assumed by the more paranoid that another collateral advantage to monitoring every single bit of information passing over satellite and microwave and telephone trunks was to glean industrial information. This is the first time I see where a NSA employee admits to that.

btw, where did you find the information about the cooling system allowing the E-82 to produce an extra meg of power? I went to the Enercon site and found nothing like that.

Posted by: dan of steele | May 24, 2008 3:49:53 PM | 2

btw, where did you find the information about the cooling system allowing the E-82 to produce an extra meg of power? I went to the Enercon site and found nothing like that.

In the German board thread (which has lots of insiders) and the German wiki entry which says:

Nennleistung: 2 MW, höhere Nennleistung in Vorbereitung (Prototyp mit wassergekühltem Stator bei 3 MW Nennleistung ist aktuell in der Erprobung; Stand 4/2008)

Posted by: b | May 24, 2008 4:12:39 PM | 3

"That pesky heat in the stator is really killing efficiency, but how on earth are we EVER going to cool things down?"

"Well, call me crazy, but I once put cold water in a hot frying pan, and I tell ya, that pan cooled right down!! I kid you not."

Posted by: ferd | May 24, 2008 4:16:15 PM | 4

very interesting re the industrial espionage angle

on wind power, there was some press last month about a small missouri town by the name of rock port becoming the first u.s. city to run entirely on power generated by wind, thanks to four suzlon S-64 turbines. haven't read enough to be able to comment on it, though i was surprised to find out that i (used to) know one of the co-founders of the company that pulled it off.

Posted by: b real | May 24, 2008 10:44:00 PM | 5

Yeah, DOS, it was Woolsey who let the cat out of the bag about Echelon and industrial spying, as I recall he felt that it was justified because European companies are corrupt -- which is true to some degree, in some cases, but hell, with reasoning like that I could justify robbing banks and worse.

Posted by: Chuck Cliff | May 25, 2008 7:57:52 AM | 6

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Posted by: john | Aug 3, 2008 2:06:17 PM | 7

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Posted by: Vince | Aug 29, 2008 9:44:47 AM | 8

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