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Comparison between Different Electrical Energy Generation Systems Used in Wind

Ali Kashiha
Department of Electrical
Science and Research Branch
Islamic Azad University
Kermanshah, Iran

Mohammad Naser Hashemnia

Bahar Institute of Higher Education
Mashhad, Iran

Hamdi Abdi
Razi University
Kermanshah, Iran

Abstract Nowadays, more attention has been paid to the

application of wind turbines in electrical energy generation
systems. Different electromechanical models have been so far
suggested for wind energy extraction; they are mainly
classified into constant speed and variable speed groups.
Variable speed systems are preferred due to their lower torque
ripples, higher extracted wind energy and higher efficiency.
However, the cost of these systems is higher than that of the
constant speed systems. The reason is the use of power
electronics converters and control systems. In this paper the
available wind generator systems are reviewed and their
overall performance is compared.
Keywords-Constant Speed System; Electrical
Generation; Fixed Speed System; Wind Turbine.




To reduce green gas emission and to stop

environmental pollution more attention has been recently
drawn to renewable and non-polluting energy sources. This
has been intensified because of raising the fossil fuels price.
Wind energy is accounted as one of the renewable and clean
energy sources. In this paper electrical energy generation in
wind turbines is briefly reviewed. Their present models are
compendiously introduced and finally they are compared
from different point of views.


Different models have been so far introduced for

electrical power generation systems. They can generally be
put in two categories, fixed speed and variable speed
systems. Squirrel-cage induction generators are mostly used
in constant speed systems. Their advantages include low
cost, low weight and volume and self-starting feature. The
following drawbacks become more important for large size
generators [1]:

Since the generator has a strong coupling with the power

network, the intrinsic oscillations of the developed torque of
the wind turbine produce power oscillations in the network.
By increasing the rated power of the generator, this can be
Aerodynamic efficiency is lower in constant speed
systems in comparison to variable speed systems, due to the
fact that the rotor speed must vary in proportion to wind
speed in order to capture maximum power from the wind.
Twist resonance may occur in a narrow range of speed
and in such a case, special requirements must be followed in
the turbines design.
Starting at full-voltage leads to high inrush current. This
generates mechanical transients and also voltage
fluctuations; both are unacceptable in high rated machine.
The variable-speed drives with controlling mechanism are
preferred in high rated machines due to the abovementioned reasons. The following advantages can be noted
for variable-speed operation:
Noticeable reduction of torque ripples leading to a better
power quality.
Weakening twist resonance modes.
Increasing extracted wind energy due to operation over
the speed that maximizes the turbine efficiency (Maximum
Power Point Tracking).
These are the reasons for wide application of variable
speed generators in wind energy systems. Suggested
generators have the systems that operate based on the
induction or reluctance machine technology. In the next
sections a few common models will be investigated and
One of the models that have been paid more attention
is the doubly-fed induction generator where the rotor is
connected to the grid via a power electronics convertor. The
slip power is thus recovered to the grid, increasing the
efficiency. The power electronics converter need be rated

for a fraction of the nominal power of the generator, the

fraction depending on speed range and reactive power
requirements. In addition to the above-mentioned
advantages, it is capable to control the terminal voltage by
changing the absorbed reactive power of the generator. The
speed can vary in a range of 30% of synchronous speed.
As the stator is directly connected to 50 or 60 Hz grid,
application of gears is unavoidable. Recently, brushless DF
machines (BDFM) have been considered and they offer
some advantages [2].
Another alternative choice is synchronous machine with
static frequency changer (SFC) consisting of a rectifier, dc
link and inverter. Both rectifier and inverter are thyristor
bridges. It has the following major advantages:
Generator can be directly coupled with turbine (Gearless
or Direct Drive system).
Generator braking is possible up to 10% of rated speed,
saving mechanical brakes.
This machine can also be used as a motor for starting the


In spite of wind speed variations, turbine speed in

constant speed systems is kept constant by mechanical
means (change of blade angle or varying turbine angle
against horizon) and electrical methods. In this method, a
synchronous generator can be used, where its output voltage
and frequency remain constant by fixing the rotor speed.
The major problem in this system is that the total wind
energy cannot be utilized due to constant speed of the
turbine. Also mechanical stress on the turbine is large [3].
An induction generator can also be used in constant speed
systems. In this scheme, it is not necessary to have fully
constant speed and 1-5% slip is acceptable [2]. Induction
generator reactive power is supplied by the grid or capacitor
bank; and is 30% of the induction generator power [4].
On the other hand, in variable speed systems, the rotor
speed depends on the wind velocity. This system is widely
used and is categorized into two groups.
a) Variable Speed Variable Frequency (VSVF)
System- The output frequency of this system
depends on the wind velocity. It is used for loads
that are non-sensitive to the frequency.
b) Variable Speed Constant Frequency (VSCF)
System- This system is widely used and can be put
in various types. Control of rotor speed is less
complicated and range of speed variation is wider.
However, its auxiliary systems to achieve the
proposed power and constant frequency are more
complicated. The most important advantages of
this system are outlined below [4]:

Variable speed of the rotor allows the turbine to

operate over wide range of the wind velocity and its optimal
speed which results in larger extracted energy. Rotor
enables to absorb sudden rise of wind energy and this
energy is returned when the wind velocity decreases. This
reduces the stresses of the generated vibrations and absorbs
more vibrating energies.
The VSCF systems are classified into discrete and
continuous variable speed. In the first type, electrical system
consists of many generators on a single shaft, or a generator
with variable number of poles or generators with different
gear ratios coupled to wind turbine. Generally, discrete
variable speed systems have some advantages over the
continuous variable speed systems and its most important
impact is the increasing the generated energy. However, this
system is unable to absorb the rapid variations of the load
like variable continuous speed system.
Various types of systems that operate with this method
include two-speed induction generator with variable pole,
two-speed induction generator with two stator windings, and
system with many generators and induction generator with
pole amplitude modulation.
The second type of variable speed systems are those
allow to vary the speed continuously based on the following
1) Mechanical (using hydraulic transmission
system, transmission system with variable
2) Electrical (induction generators with
rotating stator, large slip induction
3) Power electronics.
Two first methods have high initial cost, utilization
problems, repair and maintenance, and low efficiency;
therefore are less applicable. Application of power
electronics devices is paid more attention which leads to
more development of the variable speed systems. This will
be considered in the following parts.


This system consists of turbine, generator, machine

side converter, and network side converter. To increase the
low speed of the turbine (15-35 rpm), a gear can be used and
the proposed output frequency is fixed. Sometimes, the low
frequency of the generator output voltage is adjusted by
converter; this is called direct-drive system (Fig. 1).
Omitting the gear causes the speed reduction of the rotor,
and higher magnetic flux and pole numbers are necessary to
obtain a proper output voltage and this enlarges the
generator dimensions. The generator can be dc, squirrel
cage, wound rotor or doubly-fed brushless induction
machine. If induction generator is utilized, the required
reactive power is supplied by the converter itself not
capacitor bank. In this case the power factor can be
controlled to be always unity. Output voltage, frequency,

active power and reactive power can be controlled by the

converter. Since the whole transferred power passes the
converter, the converter power must be equal to the
generator power. High power rating of the converter
increases the cost and switching losses and this can be
considered as the most important drawback of this type of
variable speed energy conversion systems.


RCC system is the most simple and widest systems

used in wind energy conversion systems in the last decay.
As shown in Fig. 2, amplitude of the rotor current is
controlled by an electronic circuit. It is clear that much rotor
energy is lost in the resistance bank [4].

Fig. 3. A variable speed system using DFIG [5]

Fig. 1. A variable speed system with gearbox [5]

Fig. 4. Different operating regions based on rotor rotational speed
and power exchange with machine [5]

Fig. 5. Equivalent circuit of induction generator [5]

Fig. 2. Rotor current control system [4]


A DFIG is a wound rotor generator where its
stator is directly connected to the grid and the rotor
is connected to the grid via a bi-directional
converter (Fig. 3).


Fig. 6. Power flow in DFIG [5]

rating is smaller than that of the generator. Based on the

equivalent circuit of Fig. 5, the apparent power of the stator
and rotor are as follows [5]:

S S 3VS I S* 3( rS I S jLS I S j m ) I S*


S R 3Vr I r* 3( rr I r jsLr I r js m ) I r*


where is the stator angular frequency. The above

equations can be rewritten as follows:

I S* (


I rm I r ) *

S S 3rS I S


j 3LS I S

j 3sL r I r

j 3 m (


I rm I r ) *

S r 3rr I S

j 3s m I r


By ignoring the copper losses in the above equations, rotor

and stator active powers are as follows:
Fig. 7. (a) [5], (b) cascade DFIG and (c) brushless DFIG

The converter power depends on the generator slip and

is about -30 to 30% of its rated power. So the cost and
losses of the converter (consisting of 25% of the total cost of
the system) are lower than that of the previous system.
Active and reactive powers can be independently controlled
by converter.
Considering rotor speed and exchanged powers, four
modes of operation can be distinguished for induction
generator as shown in Fig. 4. Two cases out of four cases
are generating mode and suitable for wind power stations. In
the first case, the rotor speed is higher than that of the stator
rotating field and rotor flux vector is ahead of the stator
flux. So, the machine is inherently in the generating mode.
The second case is called sub-synchronous region and rotor
speed is lower than that of the rotating stator field. Rotor
flux vector is behind the stator flux. So inevitably the
generating mode operation must be attained by an output
voltage supply which forces the rotor flux vector to be
ahead of the stator flux vector. For this, a bi-directional
power electronic converter is used in which one terminal is
connected to the rotor windings and other terminal to the
network. This rotor current regulation can control the rotor
flux, called field oriented or flux vector control method.
Converter can be a cyclo-converter or PWM inverter
in which the speed varies in the small range, and converter


3rS I S 3rm I rm 3 Im[ m I r* ] 3 Im[ m I r* ]

Pr Re S r

3rr I r 3 Im[ m I r* ] 3s Im[ m I r* ]



The total mechanical power is then:

Pmech PS Pr

3 Im m I r* 3s Im m I r*


(1 s )3r Im m I r*
Finally, active powers of the generator are as follows:

1 s
Pr mech
1 s
Pr sPS


The above relation shows that DFIG has some kind of

power amplification ability; a small rotor power results is a
large amount of power in the stator terminals.

Fig. 8. Classification of different variable speed systems [5].

Cascade DFIG
It consists of two DFIGs connected in cascade. As
shown in Fig. 7a, rotors of two machines have been coupled
electrically and mechanically. Since the voltages of two
rotors are equal, it is possible to control the larger machine
(which is directly connected to the network) through the
smaller machine. The converter has been connected to the
small machine, so there is a lower power compared to
machines with full scale converters. However, electrical
losses of this system are higher due to high volume of the
Brushless DFIG
If in cascade system both machines are placed inside a
single frame, a brushless DFIG is attained (Fig. 7b). To
prevent magnetic coupling between the two stator windings,
different number of pole pairs are chosen, and this
difference must be higher than unity.
Doubly-fed Reluctance Machine

Its stator is similar to a brushless DFIG and their

difference is a rotor based on the reluctance principle. Fig. 8
shows different classified variable speed systems.



In this paper, a comparison and classification of

different wind energy conversion systems was made.
Variable speed systems are more suitable than fixed speed
systems due to lower mechanical stress and higher
aerodynamic efficiency. Among various variable speed
systems, the DFIG has the benefit of lower converter cost
and loss while the permanent magnet synchronous generator
is also a competitive candidate the most advantage of which
is the higher generator efficiency and being completely
decoupled from the grid. It is expected that these two
systems will continue to have most of market share while
new emerging technologies such as Brushless DFIG are also
going to become commercialized.


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Performance of BDFM as generator and motor, IEE Proceedings Electric Power Applications; vol.153, no.2, pp. 289-299, March 2006.




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