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25/01/2021 - 27/01/2021

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Power take-off rig for ocean energy research

Power take-off rig for ocean energy research With the emergence of 'ocean energy' there is a need for testing of power take-off equipment as well as control and grid integration systems. At the Hydraulics and Maritime Research Centre (HMRC) at University College Cork, a laboratory scale rig has been developed to emulate the power testing required at sea.

With requirements for flexibility, programmability, safety and robustness, the drive, motor, generator combination chosen was from two Emerson Industrial companies: Control Techniques and Leroy-Somer. With the imminent requirement to connect more offshore devices and arrays to the grid, research and development has focused on the control and performance of the electrical components in the power train, including generators, power converters and grid interface equipment. Assessing design performance for these components under the operating conditions experienced in an ocean energy system is an expensive and difficult process - hence the need for this laboratory scale testing rig.

University researchers had a demanding list of specifications, including regeneration capability and flexibility in operation - even at the relatively low power of a test rig and for a one-off project. The supplier had to supply matching motors and drives, custom options (two shafts and a through-hole resolver for instance) and also had to have the ability to supply a wound-rotor induction machine, unusual at this power level. Control Techniques' Drive Centre at Newbridge was able to match these requirements and more.

Leroy-Somer's motor specialists and Control Techniques' design and software engineers became involved from the outset, providing support throughout the project. The design presented unique challenges: safety and industry-quality robustness had to be combined with flexibility, adaptability to different user requirements, future-proofing, and programmability. The finished rig comprises a multi-contactor arrangement that allows for a number of different generator, power converter and grid emulator configurations, selected by means of a user-friendly graphical PC interface program. Multiple time series input formats, prime mover models and control algorithms can be loaded into the PLC via the same user interface.

The experimental test rig is capable of recreating, within a laboratory setting, the dynamic response exhibited by a prime mover onto a motor/generator set whilst simultaneously measuring the exported power level and power quality. The prime mover can simulate, from real or modelled time series data, any varying source such as a wind turbine, a hydraulic motor or a wave energy air turbine. The test rig is an extremely flexible tool enabling the optimisation of a wide range of energy converter systems under various conditions.
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