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GE aims to reduce the price of distant renewables via PassiveBoost

March 4, 2014 | By Anthony Capkun

March 4, 2014 – GE Power Conversion says it has successfully tested its PassiveBoost technology, which allows remote power networks to go DC. The company says this is an important step toward lowering the cost of power delivered from offshore installations and increasing the electrical output delivered from renewable energy sources in distant, inhospitable places.

“Whether extracting fossil fuels or capitalizing on renewable energy resources, we find ourselves working further offshore or in inhospitable desert locations,” said Keiran Coulton, senior executive, global industry at GE Power Conversion. “In either case, the energy wasted in AC transmission systems is costing the energy consumer too much.”

Performed at the company’s full-scale power system test site near Leicester in the United Kingdom, the trials involved new technologies that GE has been introducing over the past several years. The solution provides a straight replacement, on the same footprint, for the AC transformer inside every wind turbine, explains GE, and allows direct connection to a high-voltage DC power collection grid while reducing cable cost—and without requiring a DC breaker.

In PassiveBoost, GE uses a new power device packaging technique with a “novel” cooling system, as well as its ActiveFoldback fault protection system.

“Reducing the cost of electricity generated by offshore wind is a vitally important factor in realizing the significant economic potential of the technology,” said Seoniad Vass, director of renewable energy and low carbon technologies at Scottish Enterprise, which was involved in the early stages of the project. “As a result, the development of innovative technologies such as this is key to the sector’s ongoing development, and we look forward to continuing to work with GE in this important field.”

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