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Wind and Solar Power:  Rugged applications demand ultra-reliable power control systems

With extreme environments and remote locations, wind and solar power installations demand the ultimate in reliability. A system malfunction requires a costly service expedition, and an even more costly loss of production.

High-frequency transformers are an often overlooked but highly critical factor in power control system reliability.  Operating at the nexus of high and low voltages, an under-engineered design or poorly built transformer can lead to catastrophic system failure.  Global alternative energy players turn to Bicron to ensure their systems meet the demands of the harsh environments in which their systems operate.

SPICE circuit simulation and system parasitics characterization at the transformer level should be a part of the design process. One mission critical function that should not be neglected are false triggers/recycling. Failure to match leakage inductance and capacitance poles and zeroes with an eye on power control accuracy and repeatability will result in power system instabilities and catastrophic failures.

In Grid-Routing control applications the same approach is required, but the focus should be on slew rate and matching high voltage parasitics. While BIL ratings have typically been the domain of gas and liquid filled transformers, the threat is now extended down to the printed circuit board level in saturated grid environments. The trend will continue as energy demand growth exceeds power generation and transmission.

Transformers used to generate power rails in wind turbine and flywheel applications operate in environments >5KV. Transformers used to switch voltages on and off line in power rail applications interface with the power control sub system at voltages >10KV. Types of devices for these and related control functions include power supply transformers (see power supplies), pulse transformers, gate drive transformers, isolation transformers and inductors.

BIL/Corona Free ratings are recommended for all devices in the alternative energy segment and grid routing segment.

Primary Design Considerations Summary:

  • Leakage Inductance and Capacitance balancing/matching
  • Voltage stability
  • Insulation
  • Control of Parasitics
  • Voltage level accuracy and repeatability
  • Corona abatement
  • BIL