Development of an active pitch control system for wind turbines
Den Heijer, Francois Malan
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A wind turbine needs to be controlled to ensure its safe and optimal operation, especially during high wind speeds. The most common control objectives are to limit the power and rotational speed of the wind turbine by using pitch control. Aero Energy is a company based in Potchefstroom, South Africa, that has been developing and manufacturing wind turbine blades since 2000. Their most popular product is the AE1kW blades. The blades have a tendency to over-speed in high wind speeds and the cut-in wind speed must be improved. The objective of this study was to develop an active pitch control system for wind turbines. A prototype active pitch control system had to be developed for the AE1kW blades. The objectives of the control system are to protect the wind turbine from over-speeding and to improve start-up performance. An accurate model was firstly developed to predict a wind turbine’s performance with active pitch control. The active pitch control was implemented by means of a two-stage centrifugal governor. The governor uses negative or stalling pitch control. The first linear stage uses a soft spring to provide improved start-up performance. The second non-linear stage uses a hard spring to provide over-speed protection. The governor was manufactured and then tested with the AE1kW blades. The governor achieved both the control objectives of over-speed protection and improved start-up performance. The models were validated by the results. It was established that the two-stage centrifugal governor concept can be implemented on any wind turbine, provided the blades and tower are strong enough to handle the thrust forces associated with negative pitch control. It was recommended that an active pitch control system be developed that uses positive pitching for the over-speed protection, which will eliminate the large thrust forces. Keywords: pitch control, wind turbine, centrifugal governor, over-speed protection, cut-in wind speed, blade element-momentum theory, rotor, generator, stall, feathering.
- Engineering