Wago Wind Power Support Reaches New Heights

Oct. 1, 2011
At its North American headquarters, Wago installs a 20kW Renewegy wind turbine system, which includes its connectors and other components and supports active energy management.

On a breezy, beautiful September day, Wago Corporation installed a small-scale, commercial-grade wind turbine at its North American headquarters in Germantown, Wis. The 30 meter tall VP-20 turbine from Renewegy, LLC in OshKosh, Wis both supports the company’s energy management strategies and showcases its products for wind turbine automation.   

“Renewegy’s inventive hydraulic-driven tip-up function demonstrates Wisconsin ingenuity and manufacturing capabilities,” sais Wago President Tom Artmann. “We are proud that our products are supporting VP-20s nationwide, and are looking forward to supplementing our manufacturing facility with renewable energy.”

The VP-20’s control system (made up of seven microcomputers working in unison) optimizes the turbine’s performance while ensuring safety and reliability. Each VP-20 turbine head comes standard with an electronic 3-axis accelerometer to measure the key vibrations from your turbine head. This information is processed 10 times per second by the VP-20’s master controller to ensure that the turbine is operating safely under all conditions.

>> See the accompanying video, below, on the controls for the turbine.

Key to power generation is Renewegy’s electronic Variable Pitch (VP) feature. Patterned after utility-scale turbines, VP controls pitch for each blade within one-tenth of a degree while pitching at speeds up to 15 degrees per second. According to Renewegy engineer Greg Aykens, a closed-loop, Active Pitch Servo manages blade speeds in wind conditions ranging from 6.7–55.9 mph. An electric Active Yaw Servo ensures optimum power generation by directing the blades’ direction into the wind.

Aykens was on hand for the raising of the Wago turbine, a process that takes only 10 minutes given Renewegy’s unique, monopole Tip-Down Tower design. The design cost-effectively replaces the large cranes and heavy-duty equipment needed for installation and maintenance with a hydraulic cylinder system. Thanks to the strong breezes on the hilltop location, the turbine’s three 9.5 meter blades were spinning almost immediately and an online monitoring program showed the generator averaging 600 revolutions per minute. The turbine is capable of generating 20kW.

When it comes to wind turbine automation, power supply and signaling reliability are essential for coping with widely varying wind conditions. Renewegy specified WAGO’s IP67-grade 756 Series cables and connectors for the VP-20’s microprocessor-driven control system. Crucial for safety and reliability, the connections resist dust, water and mechanical loosening caused by vibrations. VP-20 also employs Wago 787 Series power supplies, 288 Series fuse blocks and back-up capacitor module.

Anchoring the VP-20 is a control cabinet that includes Wago’s 288 Series capacitor back-up module and 787 Series Epsitron Pro 24VDC power supplies. The units were specified because they feature PowerBoost, which provides twice the current at constant voltage for approximately four seconds. Essentially, this “boost” ensures reliable, cold-weather start-ups.

The VP-20 wind turbine costs approximately $80,000, but Wago’s costs were offset by about $35,000 in state and federal green energy incentives. It will supply 8-10 percent of the energy needed to run Wago’s onsite engineering, manufacturing and sales operations, and its monitoring functions will supply additional data for the company's energy management strategies. Wago has already installed a Circon building automation system that monitors and controls HVAC and lighting systems to save energy. That system integrates Wago’s LonWorks based devices, as well as highly reflective LED lighting systems.  

Wago sees the Renewegy system as a way to enhance its expertise in green energy applications. “We already sell into the solar, wind and highly reflective LED markets, supplying everything from connectors to controllers, and see a lot of potential there,” said Artmann. Wago Marketing Manager Dean Norton said the company will be unveiling additional products later this year specifically applicable to wind turbine control and monitoring.  

Renee Robbins Bassett, [email protected], is managing editor of Automation World.

See also: MatrikonOPC releases OPC Server for Mitsubishi wind turbines to ease integration with HMIs, historians and ERP systems.