GreenSpur Wind, the company who has developed a new generator for the global offshore wind market, and Niron Magnetics, the company pioneering the world’s first high-performance, rare earth-free permanent magnets, today announced a milestone in developing a new, lighter, and highly efficient rare earth-free generator solution for the offshore wind market. The findings have been verified by ORE Catapult, the UK’s leading technology innovation and research center for offshore renewable energy.
According to the Ocean Renewable Energy Action Coalition (OREAC), offshore wind is forecast to reach 1,400GW by 2050 and will be a crucial component in the transition to net-zero emissions. However, the industry’s reliance on expensive, supply-constrained rare earth magnets, historically considered essential components in generators for wind turbines, has created a barrier to rapid progress.
“Existing turbines use radial-flux generators, and the current designs are reliant on rare earth magnets,” said Andrew Hine, Commercial Director at GreenSpur Wind. “However, we employ a unique and highly innovative axial-flux architecture that makes the use of rare-earth free magnets possible. Our patented concept can eliminate the risks associated with supply chain constraints and volatile pricing.”
Past iterations of the GreenSpur generator had attracted interest, but there were concerns about its mass. Keeping generator mass within the same range as existing machines is important, as adding weight requires more structural support, which increases cost. By designing with Niron’s Generation 1 Clean Earth Magnet™, which offers significantly stronger magnetic performance than the ferrites used in its earlier generator designs, GreenSpur developed a new 15MW generator. Based upon initial non-optimized results, the new generator delivers a significant 56% reduction in mass.
“Our Clean Earth Magnet™ technology helps eliminate reliance on expensive, supply constrained, rare earth-based magnets, without compromising on performance,” said Andy Blackburn, CEO of Niron Magnetics. “Device designers and manufacturers take our technology and realize its impact. By working with GreenSpur, we have been able to demonstrate what can be achieved with our Generation 1 technology in wind applications, with innovative materials and innovative device design coming together to enable a potentially transformative solution for the offshore market.”
Supported by an Innovate UK grant, the new 15MW generator design was reviewed by ORE Catapult, the UK’s leading technology innovation and research center for offshore renewable energy. The review confirmed that GreenSpur’s 15MW generator design is now able to meet the mass and efficiency targets required by the market.
Work to form the consortium is underway. For more information on this effort, please go here.