BERLIN — Until a major part can be replaced Berlin’s first wind turbine is stuck spinning its wheels, or in this case blades, without producing usable power.
The creator of the turbine hopes to have the issue fixed within a few months so that the machine, which is a small prototype, can be used to collect data and showcase its unique technology.
Originally installed in January, the 21-foot tall turbine is located along Old Ocean City Boulevard. The 7kw fixture was designed using a new technology developed by Doug Richards, president of DDU Magnetics. It was built as a prototype of a planned 65-foot high, 50kw turbine and was meant to collect data while the larger machine was being built.
Unfortunately, a critical part of the small turbine, called the invertor, has burnt out.
“The generator was too powerful for it,” said Richards this week.
The part has actually been out of commission for about a month, according to Tim Lawrence, director of Berlin’s Electric Utility. The turbine is still generating power but without a working invertor to transition the electricity from DC to A/C it’s all just dead energy.
The town wasn’t exactly counting on the tiny, 7kw turbine to run the power grid, so from a practical standpoint its loss is minor. However, without the invertor to translate the energy the machine isn’t able to fulfill its data gathering role. It was intended to gauge conditions in Berlin to better facilitate the creation of the larger turbine.
“The generator is still producing DC but there’s no way to record it,” said Richards.
Richards hopes to have a new invertor installed within the next few months that will allow the prototype to function as intended. There was little-to-no significant data collection prior to the malfunction, but the plan is still to make a full-size turbine using Richards’ new technology, which is based around the DC to AC conversion, sometime down the road.
“That’s what we’re doing now, trying to get the support to go to the next phase,” he said. “We’re knocking on all of the doors … It’s all based on the financing and we’re pursuing that as we speak. As soon as we can get that in place, we’ll hit the ground running.”
Coming up with the technology was the easy part, Richards added, but finding funding is the real challenge.
Although not functioning properly now, Lawrence said that the turbine was running “as intended” prior to the loss of the invertor.