UK based GreenSpur Renewables has developed a new type of direct drive generator which is said to eliminate the requirement for expensive rare earth magnets. It is expected to change the future of global supply chains, and drastically reduce the cost of wind energy.
A direct drive generator’s need for rare-earth magnets, which are mainly produced in China, means they are an expensive alternative, with the market effectively subject to a monopoly.
The new generator uses ferrite magnets, which are 40 times cheaper than their rare earth equivalents.
In developing the technology, GreenSpur started working with the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult to respond to an Innovate UK funding call. After forming a working relationship, the company tested a scale 75 kW generator at ORE Catapult’s test rig in Blyth last year. They then signed an agreement with ORE Catapult and Warwick Manufacturing Group to build a 250 kW direct drive generator, with the support of a £1.25million grant award from Innovate UK.
Andy Tipping, commercialisation manager at ORE Catapult said: “We are now working to develop a UK based supply chain and plan to establish a manufacturing operation within three years. Scaling up short term production in the UK could create 200 new manufacturing jobs plus a further 70 in the supply chain. If the technology is deployed at the 2 GW to 3 GW level, it could lead to the creation of over 3000 new UK jobs.”