T&D World Magazine

Advanced Lithium Ion Polymer Batteries Backup Wind Generators

Lithium Technology Corporation' German subsidiary, GAIA Akkumulatorenwerke GmbH, has received a contract from a leading German supplier of wind turbines to purchase Lithium Ion batteries as back-up power for the rotor blade pitch control system.

Wind power is rapidly growing worldwide as an alternative energy source. Germany is one of the countries leading the effort to use wind energy to replace fossil fuels in the generation of electrical power. In 2004, about 6% of electric power consumed in Germany came from 16,000 wind generators, which represents about 1/3 of the generating capacity installed worldwide. This use of renewable and alternative energy is expected to increase further due to rising oil prices and environmental concerns.

Wind generators respond to changing wind conditions by automatically adjusting the angle that the blade makes with the oncoming wind using power from the electrical grid. When the grid fails, there is no load on the generator and the wind generator is in risk of severe damage if the blades are not turned into a neutral position using power provided by the batteries. Presently, lead acid batteries are used for back-up power to readjust the rotors. These, however, require frequent maintenance, which is a significant burden due to the position of the heavy batteries high up on the wind generator and the often remote location. LTC's GAIA batteries are one-third the weight, are maintenance-free and have an electronic battery management system that allows checking the status of the battery remotely.

According to GAIA's managing director, Klaus Brandt, "The multiple advantages of our lithium ion technology make our products particularly well suited to this application. This opportunity opens an entirely new high-end segment for LTC's GAIA batteries. This segment is characterized as a fast growing niche market as there is a steady rise of new wind turbine installations and retrofits into existing units."

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