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Why OEMs, Operators Opt for Ultracapacitors in Wind Pitch Control

Words: Wolfgang Beez, Sr. Marketing and Business Development Manager –

Wind Systems, Maxwell Technologies

Wolfgang Beez is senior business portfolio manager wind for the group and works closely with wind operators to integrate ultracapacitor wind pitch control retrofit systems in wind farms across the globe.

Ultracapacitors – the fast-responding, power-packed energy storage devices that have been adopted into a variety of applications and industries across the globe are the leading pitch technology used for turbines today, taking the leading share position of 43% in newly installed turbines worldwide in 2015. Batteries take 20% of electric pitch systems; the remaining 37% of turbines are hydraulic.

The wind industry is witnessing a strong trend toward ultracapacitor wind pitch systems, due to the technology’s several advantages over battery-based pitch systems. An Ultracapacitor stores energy in an electric field, rather than in a chemical reaction, so it can survive hundreds of thousands more charge and discharge cycles than a battery can; it can also operate in much lower and higher temperatures since they don’t contain chemicals that are susceptible to environmental conditions. Ultracapacitors are known for their special ability to provide a high surge of power—unlike batteries, they can capture and release energy quickly and efficiently.

Ultracapacitors are a critical safety part of the turbine pitch control system, managing the pitch for each blade individually and performing critical functions by “feathering” the blades to enhance the efficiency of wind energy conversion, as well as shutting down the system by pitching the blades to zero in the case of high winds or a grid failure for fail safe operation. Ultracapacitor-based wind pitch systems have earned a reputation of contributing to reliability, increased safety and reduced overall operational cost.

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