Boulder Wind Power believes it has figured out a way to combat the increasing size of wind turbines, which have become increasingly heavier and bulkier over the years. The company aims to make turbines lighter by utilizing a generator that incorporates a circuit board design as one of its main components.
Traditional generators are comprised of a rotor and stator which are both wrapped with copper coils that create a magnetic field to produce mechanical energy, which will be converted to electricity at a later time.
Boulder Wind Power has taken a stator and printed copper wires onto fiberglass and limited layers of fiberglass together to create a stator that looks, and works, like a printed circuit board. Their design uses no iron, and instead uses a magnet as part of the generator to create the magnetic field. Ultimately, the stator is sandwiched between the magnet-lined rotor.
Andy Cukurs, the company’s CEO says the innovative circuit board design is very cost effective because it is so light weight and requires no heavy foundation and tower, as do traditional turbines. Boulder Wind Turbine’s generator for a 3 MW turbine weighs 40% less than average generators, and the company is able to cut the weight of a wind tower weighing 200 metric tons by 6-10 metric tons.
Boulder Wind Power’s use of magnets is also innovative. Their design belongs to a class of technology called direct drive permanent magnet which is designed to replace designs that create less efficient, reliable, and heavier wind turbines. The company may soon sign a contract to create a prototype for its first customer, which may lead to future orders.
However, ultimately Boulder Wind Power plans to primarily license its technology instead of building actual wind turbines.