This paper investigates the performance of a variable ratio gearbox (VRG) used in a small fixed-speed wind turbine with active blades. The major components of the VRG-enabled drivetrain are an automatic-manual gearbox and squirrel cage induction generator that connects directly to the grid. The simplicity of this system may be appealing for applications when cost and reliability are of concern. It is an alternative to variable speed systems, which necessitate a modified generator and power conditioning equipment. During partial load operation the VRG provides a discrete set of rotor speeds. This allows the controller to track the wind speed and to achieve a greater efficiency. This study suggests three VRG ratios are sufficient to improve performance when used with active blades. A case study is presented where the performance is simulated using three different wind data sets. The study suggests that the VRG can improve production between 7 and 8.5% in low wind areas. The design procedure also illustrates a technique for finding the lowest and highest gear ratios needed for VRG design. These ratios allow the system to achieve the lowest cut-in and rated speeds. The approach also has useful implications for the design of a continuously variable transmission.
Renewable Energy – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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