Wind power systems have become a vital backbone in today’s energy-generation infrastructure in many countries. Depending on the actual converter topology used these wind power systems contain of one or more of the following subsystems:

  • Machine-side converter
  • Line-side converter
  • DC-Link
  • Break chopper
  • Crow bar

The following figures show the simplified topology of two of the most common wind power systems: the direct drive (DD) wind power system (Fig. 1); and the wind power system with doubly-fed induction generator (Fig. 2).

Fig. 1 Direct drive wind power system

Fig. 2 Wind power system with doubly-fed induction generation

Apart from the DC-Link and crow bar, the power-semiconductor-of-choice is the IGBT, which requires a reliable gate driver to ensure fault-free operation over its entire lifetime of 15 years (minimum). Otherwise, power outages would become expensive, not only because of the lost energy, but also due to maintenance and logistic costs, especially in remote areas. Power Integrations has designed highly-reliable plug-and-play drivers which have become established as the industrial standard for wind power systems, e.g. 2SP0320, 2SP0325.

Typically, in variable speed wind power systems (such as the DD and DFIG systems illustrated) a pitch control is required to adjust the rotor blades to take into account the actual system and wind conditions. These pitch control converters also use IGBTs driven by products such as  Power Integrations' 2SC0108T IGBT core driver.