There are many emerging uses for ultracapacitors across a wide variety of industries, often those with applications affected by difficult or limited access. Wind turbines are a prime example of this. By their very nature, a wind turbine presents a significant challenge for maintenance access, and the associated increased safety risks. The maintenance free nature of ultracapacitors is a key advantage for their use in wind turbine emergency pitch control systems.
Wind turbines use pitch control systems that are largely battery-based. The pitch control system is a component used to control the angle of the blades for the purposes of optimising wind generation and ensuring safety in operation during high winds or extreme weather conditions. When battery-based pitch control systems are used, downtime hours occur monthly, often due to failures caused by abrupt temperature changes, extreme weather, and the inherent requirement for frequent battery maintenance. The failure or end of life of these battery-based systems results in a costly and time-consuming replacement as technicians are required to climb the tower. During this process, the turbines themselves lose electricity generating time and pose an increased safety risk.
Ultracapacitors are an energy storage device that stores energy electrostatically. Battery technologies on the other hand, store energy electrochemically. Ultracapacitors can be used as a maintenance-free option for pitch control systems because they have a longer lifespan, are more temperature resistant and require no scheduled maintenance for long periods of time.
One reason for this is that ultracapacitors have a much longer cycle life than batteries, meaning they can be charged and discharged many more times. In comparison, batteries can only be charged and discharged a limited number of times before they need to be replaced. This means that ultracapacitors will typically last much longer than batteries, reducing the need for maintenance and replacement.
Another reason why ultracapacitors are a maintenance-free option is due to their temperature resistance. Extreme temperatures can significantly impact battery life and performance, and batteries may require additional cooling or heating systems to operate effectively. Ultracapacitors, on the other hand, are less affected by temperature changes and can operate in a wider range of temperatures without requiring additional maintenance.
For more reasons on why Ultracapacitors are maintenance free, please see our blog, Ultracapacitors: No Maintenance. Really?
Overall, ultracapacitors are a more reliable and durable option for pitch control systems because they have a longer lifespan and require less maintenance than battery-based systems. This makes them a popular choice for applications where reliability and low maintenance are important, such as wind turbines, where access for maintenance can be challenging.