History

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Photo courtesy of DOE/NREL – Credit Green Mountain Power Corporation

As the new millennium approached, three innovative, entrepreneurial companies looked at the wind turbine marketplace and saw an opportunity to advance wind turbine blade pitch control. These companies came together and pooled their resources in 2000 to form the business, then known as MLS Electrosystem. Each of these successful companies brought their own credible and successful experience in sales & marketing in the gear and motor market place, engineering R&D in the servo control industry, and engineering & electronic manufacturing in the industrial electronic and servo control industries, respectively.

In February of 2010, controlling interests of the company, were acquired by two of the original companies: the Matric Group located in Seneca, PA, and R2J Technologies located in Pittsburgh. The company was renamed Windurance.

Windurance began to listen closely to the wind turbine manufacturing market place and discern key improvement points in existing pitch systems in the wind turbine industry that eventually were incorporated into the Windurance base modular servo electronic pitch control system design presented to the market place. This application specific base design for the large utility grade wind turbine market place was created initially for the European market. A prototype was built for a Spanish turbine manufacturer. It was installed and proved to be very effective producing exceptional power curves compliant to requirements. Today, there is over 1,800 MW of power being generated optimally through Windurance pitch systems worldwide.

The success of Windurance servo pitch control design lies in its dynamically matched components (gears, motors, batteries, cables and electronics) fit specifically for customer requirements and the wind turbine marketplace. Continuous improvements in pitch control technologies have allowed Windurance to advance the state of pitch controls in the wind industry.

In 2008, Windurance moved into the 1300 Commerce Drive World Headquarters in Coraopolis (Moon Township). The new facility boasts an engineering and test lab, training facilities, ample conferencing and all within minutes of the Pittsburgh International Airport.

The quality management system for the company was certifiied to the ISO 9001:2008 standard in 2009. The certification ensures that Windurance is engineering and manufacturing their systems to the highest standards.

1996 – Electric servo pitch design concept developed
2000 – Joint venture founded
2001 – Pitch control battery charging and monitoring system developed
2002 – First 2.5 MW pitch system delivered into Europe
2003 – First 1.67 MW pitch system delivered into Europe
2003 – Serial production begins on 1.67 MW product
2004 – First 2.5 MW pitch system deployed in North America
2005 – Serial production begins on 2.5 MW product
2006 – LVRT “SURF” product enhancements – Expansion #1: Construction of pitch system assembly area and development lab in Seneca, PA manufacturing location
2008 – Expansion #2: Move of corporate services and engineering to Coraopolis, PA
2008 – Development of AC (permanent magnet, brushless motor) system
2009 – First 1.5 MW pitch system delivered into Asia
2010 – Ownership restructuring – Name change to Windurance
2011 – HVRT “High Voltage SURF” product enhancements
2012 – Development of advanced battery charging/monitoring system
2012 – First iPitch® system delivered 2011 – Development of Hybrid Power Management System
2012 – First Hybrid Power Management System delivered
2014 – LiDAR based feed-forward individual blade pitch control modeling
2014 – PM Brushless Safety System patent awarded

Innovations

batteryinnovationSmart Charging
Smart Charging extends the battery service life and Health Monitoring of batteries and related safety circuits assures reliable safety systems. The Smart Charging Monitor design adds a variety of advanced battery health and emergency power sub-system diagnostic features. Some of these features include:

  • Individual battery charging and monitoring
  • Automatic continual battery health-monitoring feature
  • Automatic detection of Emergency Feather events for coordination of battery health monitoring during the event
  • Temperature compensated charging that prevents over-charging batteries in cold or hot weather
  • Status indication LED’s

Blade Strain Gauge Integration
As wind turbines become larger and larger, it has become necessary to monitor the strain that the wind and environment have on these massive structures. Through state-of-the-art computer programming and with the use of fiber optic cabled sensors, real-time tower strain sensing has become a reality. Although, the initial investment needed to install one of these systems was cost prohibitive, recent adjustments in cost have made the strain sensing technology affordable.

Windurance engineers had the foresight to begin investigating the advantages of monitoring this vital information on each blade utilizing blade strain technologies. Real-time data of wind speeds over the entire length of the blade can help maximize the pitch of the blade, which would have a direct impact on wind energy production.

  • Real-time blade strain and wind speed/direction data input into the Pitch Control Unit (PCU) for immediate blade pitch
  • Real-time pitch control adjustments made with data input

SRF (Servo Ride-through Feature)
SRF allows for the turbine is to use existing DC power from the EPU to operate the pitch system normally when the AC mains power is lost for up to 3 seconds.

Notable Events

WIND TURBINE OPERATES EFFICIENTLY IN 60 MPH WINDS

A U.S.-based client recently recorded their multi-megawatt turbine performing an impressive event. The tower was recording 60 mph (27 m/s) winds and the system had tower damping on. As it continued to operate efficiently, it recorded a +/- 3% power and speed regulation, while the pitch control system operated flawlessly. The turbine is equipped with a customized Windurance Electric Pitch Control System. Normally programmed to efficiently operate to 50 mph winds, the system exceeded the design specifications by 20%.

 

MEGAWATT WIND TURBINE SURVIVES MULTIPLE LIGHTNING STRIKES UNSCATHED

In 2006, a multi-megawatt wind turbine located in the United States survived a severe electrical storm unscathed. While lightning burn marks could be seen on various parts including the blades, hub and tower, the highly sensitive electronics that comprise the Windurance Pitch Control System sustained no damage.

The U.S. has 20 Million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes each year – up to 70 Million lightning strikes aloft are also counted! Wind turbines are prone to frequent lightning strikes due to there construction and locations.