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Optimum Design of Medium-Voltage DC Collector

Grids Depending on the Offshore-Wind-Park Power

Marco Stieneker, Benedict J. Mortimer, Nurhan Rizqy Averous, Hanno Stagge and Rik W. De Doncker
Institute for Power Generation and Storage Systems
E.ON Energy Research Center, RWTH Aachen University
Aachen, Germany

Abstract—DC collector grids within offshore wind park offer WTs, the lower the wake effect [6], [7] leading to higher wind
advantages regarding efficiency and investment costs. Dual- speeds at shadowed WTs. Hence, the generation of electrical
active bridge (DAB) dc-dc converter systems can be applied for energy is increased. But longer distances within the wind park
stepping-up the dc output-voltage of wind turbines (WT). The
increase of the voltage level reduces the effort for cabling and result in a larger cable grid that connects the WT to the
increases the system efficiency. Within this paper, the advantage transmission system. The higher conduction losses reduce the
of DAB converter systems used in offshore medium-voltage system efficiency.
dc (MVDC) grids is presented. Also, the optimum design of This paper discusses the design and performance of a DAB
wind park clusters regarding the wake effect and grid losses converter system for applications in offshore dc collector grids.
is investigated to maximize the energy yield.
Also, the design of the power electronics converter for WTs
I. I NTRODUCTION connected to dc grids is presented. Afterwards, the optimum
wind park cluster size regarding the number of WTs and their
The share of wind power at the supply with electrical spacing is analyzed. The results are presented in comparison
energy is steadily increasing. Hence, efficient and reliable with a wind-park-cluster layout without an additional step-up
wind turbines (WT) are an important component to ensure converter system. The paper concludes with the estimation of
the economic generation of electricity. Therefore, the design the investment costs of both design approaches.
of WTs itself is not the only challenge, also an efficient
collection grid layout is decisive to lower the total installation II. W IND T URBINES FOR DC G RIDS
and operation costs.
The rotor of the WT extracts the kinetic energy from the
The collection grid in offshore wind parks is commonly
wind and converts it into mechanical rotational energy. The
based on ac and connects each WT to an offshore substation
low speed and high torque of the rotor shaft is transformed by
platform. At this point, the grid voltage is transformed up to
a gearbox to higher speed and hence to lower torque. The
transmission level to lower conduction losses in the cables. If
gearbox output drives the generator. However, in gear-less
the distance between the offshore platform and the point of
drive train concepts the generator is directly driven by the low-
common coupling (PCC) with the onshore grid is longer than
speed rotor shaft. Within this work a medium-speed salient-
50 km to 130 km, dc transmission is more economically than
pole permanent-magnet synchronous generator (PMSG) with a
ac transmission [1]–[3].
rated line-to-line voltage VLL,WT of 3.3 kV and a rated power
But not only dc transmission can improve the efficiency and
PWT of 5 MW is taken into account. The generated electrical
lower the cost, also offshore dc collector grids in wind parks
energy is rectified by a 3-level neutral-point clamped (3-L
are superior over ac grids [3]–[5]. In this case, the dc link
NPC) [8] converter. This power electronic converter allows
of the WT is directly connected to the collector grid. Thus,
the generator to operate at its maximum power-point (MPP)
the lossy pulse-width modulated inverters and LCL filters
to ensure highest energy yield.
required for ac grid connection are obsolete.
Since the dc-link voltage does not have to be inverted into
Depending on the size of the wind park and the length of
ac, the efficiency of the WT system is higher compared to
the corresponding offshore grid, clustering the wind park and
equivalent WT systems connected to ac grids. The losses of the
using an additional step-up of the voltage can improve the
pulse-width modulated grid-side power electronics converter
efficiency of the collector grid. Furthermore, the higher voltage
and of the LCL filter vanishes (c.f. Fig. 1).
level results in less expenses for cables.
The transformation of the dc output-voltage of the WT VWT
can be realized with modular dual-active bridge (DAB) dc-dc
converter systems. These converter systems consist of input
parallel and output series-connected DAB.
The length of the dc collector grid and hence the distances
between the WTs can be optimized regarding energy yield,
cable losses and costs. The higher the distances between the Fig. 1. Wind turbine for dc grids

978-1-4799-5138-3/14/$31.00 ©2014 IEEE

Lq = 7.4 mH, respectively. The permanent magnet in the rotor
produces a peak field-flux of 5.6 Wb. These parameters result
4 in a phase current of 1.66 kA at the nominal PWT and nominal
PWT in MW rotor speed.
A. Principle
1 The three-phase dual-active bridge (DAB) dc-dc converter
[13] consists of two full-bridge converters and a medium-
0 frequency transformer providing galvanic isolation (Fig. 5).
3.5 5 10 15 20 24
Both full-bridge converters are operated with fundamental
vwind in m/s
switching frequency and modulate a 1 kHz six-step ac voltage
Fig. 2. Power generation characteristic of the WT over the wind speed at the transformer terminals. The phase shift ϕ between the
primary and secondary transformer voltage v1 and v2 results
A. Aerodynamics in a voltage difference across the leakage inductance of the
Within this paper, the aerodynamics of a 5 MW offshore WT transformer Lσ and hence in a power transfer PDAB :
(AREVA M5000 [9]) is considered. The characteristic of the  
Vp2 2 ϕ
generated power PWT over the wind speed vwind is presented PDAB = · dϕ · − for 0 ≤ ϕ ≤ π/3 (1)
in Fig. 2. At a cut-in wind speed vcut−in of 3.5 m s−1 the WT ωLσ 3 2π
starts delivering power of 190 kW. If the wind speed exceeds Vp describes the input and Vs the output voltage of the DAB,
the cut-out wind speed vcut−out of 24 m s−1 the WT is shut d the voltage ratio Vs /Vp and ω the angular frequency of the
down (c.f. Fig. 2). transformer voltage.
The instantaneous current control (ICC) presented in [14]
B. Electrical System
can be applied to improve the dynamic behavior of the
The 3-L NPC converter is considered to be equipped with DAB. Additionally, an outer voltage control loop implemented
asymmetric integrated gate-commutated thyristors (IGCTs) according to [15] ensures a constant primary voltage.
ABB 5SHY 40L4511. The ABB diodes 5SDF 11H4505 are
utilized for the anti-parallel and NPC diodes in the 3-L NPC B. Design
topology. The usage of these components allows a nominal The DAB dc-dc converter within the scope of this work
dc-link voltage of 5 kV which is sufficient to enable an MPP is designed to connect a 5 MW WT to a medium-voltage dc
operation of the PMSG. Additionally, a so-called clamping grid [16]. As already mentioned, the nominal dc output voltage
circuit as depicted in Fig. 4 is attached on the dc-link side of the WT VWT is 5.0 kV. Two series-connected 4.5 kV-IGCT
to limit the commutation current slope di/dt during switching (ABB 5SHX 26L4520 [10]) are applied resulting in a total
transients. The components of the clamping circuit are selected 100-FIT voltage of 5.6 kV.
as given in the datasheet [10]. As a result, a commutation The output bridge is equipped with two asymmetrical
current slope of 500 A μs−1 is obtained at Vp = 5 kV. ABB IGCT 5SHY 35L4521 [10] connected in series. In
The power electronics converter is modeled and simulated parallel to each IGCT, an ABB diode 5SDD 11D2800 is
in Plecs [11] based on MATLAB/Simulink. The analysis of connected to carry the output current.
the efficiency takes the switching and conduction losses of Both, the primary-side and secondary-side bridge are
the IGCTs into account as well as the conduction and reverse equipped with lossless snubber circuits. Hence, 1 μF snubber
recovery losses of the diodes. Additionally, the losses dissi- capacitors are connected in parallel to every IGCT. This leads
pated by the clamping circuit during the switching transient of to a significant reduction of turn-off losses by up to 70 % [17].
the IGCTs are also included in the computation. The resulting 99
efficiency characteristic is shown in Fig. 3.
The lowest efficiency of the WT power converter is obtained
at vcut−in and increases as the generated power PWT rises
ηWT in %

towards the nominal power. At low power generation, all losses

related to the switching of the IGCTs dominate the share of the 97
WT converter’s losses leading to a relatively low efficiency.
With higher PWT , the share of the semiconductor on-state 96
losses as well as the efficiency of the WT converter increases.
With the considered devices, a maximum efficiency of 98.8 % 95
is achieved at nominal PWT . 0 1 2 3 4 5
The considered PMSG in this work has a nominal rotational PWT in MW
speed of 400 rpm [12]. The salient rotor construction gives
different d- and q-axis inductances of Ld = 3.1 mH and Fig. 3. Efficiency of the machine-side power electronics converter


ηDAB in %

0 1 2 3 4 5
Fig. 4. Machine-side 3-L NPC converter for WTs connected to dc grids
However, if lossless snubber circuits are applied, it has to be
Fig. 6. Efficiency of the DAB including ARCP losses
ensured that the DAB is operated within the soft-switching
range. Also, a minimum power transfer has to be maintained.
Otherwise, the load current is not sufficiently high to recharge IV. D UAL -ACTIVE B RIDGE C ONVERTER S YSTEM
the snubbers.
This work considers a DAB converter system that is com-
If recharging of the snubber capacitors cannot be ensured posed of six DAB (c.f. Fig. 7). The output bridges are con-
over the whole operation range, further measures have to be nected in series to increase the voltage level (VMVDC = 6·Vs ).
taken to allow the high-efficiency design of the DAB. The The grounded midpoint leads to a symmetrical output voltage
application of an auxiliary resonant-commutated pole (ARCP) of ±15 kV. This bipolar approach offers advantages concern-
avoids the turn-on of IGCTs against a charged capacitor [18]– ing the effort for insulation.
The medium-frequency transformer that is applied in the
proposed DAB has a rated apparent power S = 6.03 MW.
Assuming maximum voltage variations at the primary and
secondary side of the DAB of ±10 %, the optimum leakage-
inductance Lσ of the transformer is estimated to be 185 μH
according to [21]. Taking a current density in the windings
of 12 A/mm2 , an unity turn-ratio and 16 windings into account,
the total weight of the transformer is 1490 kg. Beside the core
losses, only the ohmic losses of the windings are considered.
Skin and proximity effects are neglected, because litz wire is
assumed. The hysteresis losses of the core are estimated by
applying the improved generalized Steinmetz equation (iGSE).
The required Steinmetz parameter of the 0.18 mm thick silicon Fig. 7. Block diagram of the DAB converter system
steel is given in [22].
The input bridges of the DAB are connected in parallel.
Beside the transformer losses, the analytic loss model devel-
Hence, the load of all DABs within the converter system can be
oped within this work considers the conduction and switching
balanced even if the power generation of the WTs connected
losses of the semiconductors. Also, the ohmic and hysteresis
to the DAB converter system is not equal. A balanced load
losses of the ARCP inductances are calculated. The estimated
(PDAB = PDAB,1 = ... = PDAB,6 ) automatically leads to a
efficiency of the DAB is shown in Fig. 6. The step in efficiency
symmetric voltage distribution among the output bridges. Due
at PDAB = 1 MW results from the omission of the ARCP
to the series-connection of the output bridges, the average
losses. Only low power transfer of the DAB requires the
current of all DABs is always equal (IDAB = IDAB,1 = ... =
operation of the ARCP that causes losses.
IDAB,6 ). Hence, the output voltage Vs (= Vs,1 = ... = Vs,6 ) of
each DAB can be calculated according (2).
Vs = (2)
The balanced distribution of the output voltages avoids over-
sizing of the DAB. Besides the advantage of balanced output
voltages, the parallel connection of the input bridges allows
the operation of the DAB converter system in case of any WT
A disadvantage of DAB converter systems with parallel
Fig. 5. Schematic of the DAB with lossless snubbers connected input bridges is the requirement for dc circuit
breakers. If no dc circuit breakers are applied, grid failures
between the converter system and the WT cannot be isolated.
In this case, the total loss of the system is the consequence.
DAB converter systems can also be operated with isolated
input bridges [23]. In this case, dc circuit breakers are not
required but the design of the system is more complex due
to the unequal voltage distribution. Also, the operation of this
system is subjected to restrictions. Since the input connection
does not influence the optimal wind park cluster size or the
dc collector grid layout, this converter system is not discussed
within this paper.
The proposed DAB converter system is designed for a total
power PDAB,sys of 30 MW. However, PDAB,sys can be adapted
according to installed power within the wind park cluster by
a parallel connection of several DAB converter systems.


Diverse components that are required for connecting WTs
to ac grids vanish if already the collection grids are operated Fig. 8. Offshore wind park composed of four wind park clusters designed
with dc. The lossy pulse-width modulated grid-side converter according to the one-stage concept (left) and according to the two-stage
concept (right) and its connection to shore via HVDC transmission
and the bulky LCL filter to meet grid codes are obsolete. Due
to less components within the drive train, the efficiency of the (c.f. Fig. 8). Due to the higher voltage level, conduction losses
WT is increased significantly. Furthermore, the reactive power can be reduced significantly. The lower current rating enables
demand due to the capacitive character of the cables vanishes. a cable connection with smaller cross-sectional areas leading
Also, conduction losses caused by the skin effect disappear. to lower investment costs. Although the step-up converter
Hence, the efficiency of the collector grid itself is increased. and offshore cluster platform causes additional investment and
As already shown in [3]–[5], offshore dc collector grids are operation costs, the two-stage concept can improve the system
superior against ac collector grids especially if the wind park efficiency and economic feasibility in comparison to the one-
is connected to shore via HVDC transmission lines. However, stage concept.
the dc collector grid layout can be realized according to two However, the advantage of the centralized step-up converter
different concepts, the one-stage and the two-stage concept. located on an additional offshore cluster platform is that only
Both concepts consider an HVDC transmission system located one location has to be headed for maintenance and repair of
in the center of the wind park with a distance xHVDC to the the converter. This shows a great advantage in comparison
clusters of 1 km. to decentralized two-stage concepts, since the accessibility of
offshore WT and converter platforms strongly depends on the
A. One-Stage Concept
weather conditions. Furthermore, spare parts and tools can be
In dc collector grids designed according the one-stage (OS) stored at a single location.
concept, the output of each WT is directly connected to the Nevertheless, the economic feasibility strongly depends on
HVDC converter platform. The advantage of this approach the size of the dc collector grid, the installed WT power and
is that additional power electronic converters and offshore the costs for copper. Also, the distance between the offshore
platforms are not required. This reduces the investment and cluster platform the offshore HVDC converter platform has a
operation costs. The layout and the cabling of a wind park great influence.
cluster designed according the one-stage concept is shown in
Fig. 8. However, the expenses for cables and the conduction VI. W IND PARK C LUSTER
losses are high due to the relatively low distribution voltage
A. Layout
of ±2.5 kV.
The layout of the wind park cluster discussed within this
B. Two-Stage Concept paper is shown in Fig. 9. The length x gives the distance
The two-stage (TS) concept discussed within this paper between the WTs in x-direction: In y-direction the spacing is
considers an additional DAB converter system that is located given by y. However, the MVDC offshore platform is placed
on an extra offshore platform. In this approach, the WT output in the center of the wind park cluster in case of a design
voltage VWT of ±2.5 kV is stepped-up to ±15 kV before the according the two-step concept.
turbine is connected to the HVDC converter platform. The The number of wind turbines located in y-direction is kept
WTs that are connected to a DAB converter system form a so- constant to six within this paper. Adaption of the wind park
called wind park cluster. Several wind park clusters connected cluster power is achieved by paralleling of additional wind
to a common HVDC transmission system build a wind park turbine strings in x-direction.

R Rx(x)

Fig. 10. Principle of the Jensen wake model

Within the valid range, the downstream wind speed vd (x)

Fig. 9. Layout of a wind park cluster
(c.f. Fig. 10) can be calculated as follows:
The estimation of the optimum wind park cluster distances     R 2
is based on a trade-off. On the one hand, increasing distances vd (x) = vcut−in · 1 − 1 − 1 − cT (vwind ) · .
lower the negative influence of the wake effect on the energy Rx (x)
yield. On the other hand, the larger spacings increase the cable (5)
costs and copper losses. cT (vwind ) is the specific thrust coefficient of the WT and
depends on the wind speed [28].
B. Wake Effect Equation (5) can be applied if R ≤ Rx (x) and the
downstream WT is completely located in the wind field cone
When a free wind stream vwind passes a WT, the wind describing the wake effect. In case of R ≥ Rx (x) or parts of
speed behind the wind turbine is reduced due to loss of kinetic the WT’s rotor are not affected by the wake effect, (5) has to
energy. Several models describing the loss of wind speed such be modified.
as Jenson, Lissmann and Ainslie [24] have been developed. vd (x) at a downstream WT that is only partially shadowed
However, in this paper the model by N. O. Jensen [25] is by an upstream turbine can be calculated according to (6) [29].
applied for estimating this shadowing wake effect of WTs. This equation takes the relation of the rotor area A and the
This model achieves a short calculation time due to its shadowed part Ashad into account to evaluate the reduced
simplicity. impact of the wake effect.
The assumption the Jensen wake model is based on is shown
in Fig. 10. The free wind stream vwind passes the WT’s rotor vd (x) = vwind ·
with a radius R. The speed of the wind field that streams     R
1 − 1 − 1 − cT (vwind ) · ·
through the rotor is reduced due to the loss of kinetic energy. Rx (x) A
However, the loss of wind speed slowly decreases with the (6)
distance to the WT. As illustrated in Fig. 10, the geometrical
shape of the influenced wind field is assumed to be conical.
The radius of the wind field Rx (x) at a distance x behind the
turbine can be calculated with (3).
Rx (x) = R + k · x (3) Ashad R
k is the wake decay constant that depends on the surface
roughness z0 and the WT hub height h, and can be computed
with (4) [26].
k= (4)
ln ( zh0 ) Lud
In offshore wind parks, k can be assumed to be in the range of
Fig. 11. Geometrical relation of shadowed area
0.04 to 0.05 [27]. However, the Jensen model is not valid for
describing near wake effects that occur in a distance of 2−3R In wind parks, there are several WTs that are responsible for
behind the WT. But it is a reasonable model for predicting wake effects occurring downstream. In Fig. 12 an exemplary
wake effects in general [24]. wind park of nine WT is shown. For example, WT 8 is located
in the wake cone of four upstream WT: WT 1 to WT 3 and B. Costs
WT 5. Hence, for all of these upstream WT the shadowed Beside the wind data that is applied to investigate the energy
area Ashad at WT 8 has to be calculated. Afterwards, the wake yield of different wind park clusters, also the investment costs
effect caused by every WT is estimated with (6). These results of both collector grid concepts have to be compared with each
have to be summed up to calculate the total wake effect that other. Since market prices of the components are not available,
occurs at WT 8. assumptions based on former research studies are considered
The downstream wind speed vd (x) reduced by multiple within this paper.
upstream WT can be calculated with (7). The costs for a 5 kV and a 40 kV submarine cable with
vd (x) = vwind · a power capability P considered within this analysis can be
   R 2  A found in [3]:
1− 1 − 1 − cT (v) · · e0.045 · P lcable,5kV
Rud A Ccable,5kV = −e38.2 + · (10)
u=1 kW m
e0.0068 · P lcable,40kV
utot gives the total number of the influencing upstream wind Ccable,40kV = −e34.6 + · (11)
kW m
turbines. Rud describes the radius of the wake cone produced
by the upstream WT u and can be calculated with (8). xud Ccable,5kV is considered to estimate the costs for the cabling
stands for the distance in wind direction of Rud to the causing from the WT to the HVDC converter platform and from
upstream WT. the WT to the DAB cluster converter system, respectively.
Rud = R + k · xud (8) Ccable,40kV is taken into account to value the cable connection
between the DAB cluster converter system and the HVDC
VII. E VALUATION converter platform. However, to evaluate the two-stage con-
A. Wind data cept, following assumptions are taken into account to estimate
the costs for the platform and the DAB converter system.
The wind speeds and directions, that are taken into account
According to [3], the costs for the offshore wind-cluster-
within this work, are measured on Fino 1 [30], a German
platform structure are
research platform in the North Sea. Fino 1 is closely located
to the wind farm Alpha Ventus [31]. e0.07 · PDAB,sys
Cplatform = e2.200.000 + (12)
Based on the data, a Weibull distribution can be derived. The kW
function of probability density over wind speed is described The costs for the DAB converter system can be estimated
with (9). with (13). This equation considers the transformer costs ac-
kw  vwind kw −1 k
coring to [32] as well as the costs for the power electronics
f (vwind , λ, kw ) = exp−(vwind /λ)w , of a DAB with 60 e/kW.
λ λ (9)  
vwind ≥ 0 e e
CDAB,sys = 0.864 + 60 · PDAB,sys (13)
kW kW
It is estimated, that kw = 2.2 and λ = 10.5. However, the
Weibull distribution of wind speed gives no information about VIII. R ESULTS
the wind direction that is required for the calculation of the Optimum distances between the WTs can be found to maxi-
wake effect. Therefore a probability distribution with respect mize the energy yield of wind park clusters. The results of this
to the wind direction is needed. The used wind data give the evaluation are presented first. Afterwards, the corresponding
measured wind speeds and directions over a period of 9 years. investment costs are discussed.
With this data a probability distribution is created, which gives
the relative frequency of the wind speeds with respect to the A. Energy yield
direction. Within this subsection, the energy yield of two wind park
clusters are presented. For these calculations, the distances
in x-direction are varied for different spaces y. The results
corresponding to the one-stage concept consider the losses
WT 3 WT 6 WT 9
of the power electronics of the WT and copper losses of
the offshore dc grid. In addition to theses losses, the energy
vwind WT 2 WT 5 WT 8 yield for wind park clusters designed according the two-stage
approach take also the DAB losses into account.
However, it can be seen in all of the results that the gain
WT 1 WT 4 WT 7
of energy yield declines with increasing distances. Beyond the
maximum that can be achieved with the optimum dc-collector-
grid design, the energy yield even decreases. This results from
Fig. 12. Example for wake effect shadowing
the increasing copper losses that cannot be compensated by
higher wind energy generation. This paper presents the energy
Fig. 13. Annual energy yield of a 240 MW wind park cluster Fig. 15. Annual energy yield of different wind park clusters with optimum

Fig. 14. Annual energy yield of a 480 MW wind park cluster Fig. 16. Total connection lengths in different wind park clusters with optimum
layout, single-core cables

B. Investment Costs
yield of two wind park clusters in dependency of x and y. In
Fig. 13, the results are shown for 48 WT with a total power As shown in Fig. 16, the total connection length within
of 240 MW. The maximum annual energy yield of 1110 GWh wind park clusters designed according the one-stage concept
can be achieved for x = 1500 m and y = 1600 m with the is much higher compared to the two-stage concept. The results
two-stage concept. Wind park clusters designed according the consider that every WT is supposed to be connected to the
one-stage concept achieve 1090 GWh at x = 1300 m and HVDC platform (OS) or to the DAB converter system (TS)
y = 1600 m. In larger wind park clusters (96 WT, total with two single-core cables. Also the connection of the DAB
power of 480 MW, c.f. Fig. 14), the maximum energy yield converter system to the HVDC converter platform is con-
per year is achieved for lower distances in comparison to sidered to be realized with two single-core cables. However,
the example discussed before. This results from the higher this connection length is also accounted for the comparison.
influence of the copper losses due to the longer distances to Anyway, this cabling concept within the dc collector grid
the step-up DAB converter system and the HVDC converter can be optimized. The proposed principle is used due to
platform, respectively. However, 2160 GWh can be generated its simplicity and scalability for different wind-park-cluster
with the two-stage concept for x = 1300 m and y = 1600 m. power.
The one-stage concept approach leads to little less energy of The investment costs for different wind-park-cluster power
2110 GWh for x = 800 m and y = 1600 m. The maximum are shown in Fig. 17. The results corresponding to the one-
annual energy yield that can be achieved with an optimum stage concept take cable costs into account, whereas the
layout of the dc collector grid for different wind-park-cluster evaluation of the two-stage concept is conducted regarding the
power is shown in Fig. 15. The energy gain of the two-stage cable costs, structure costs of the offshore platform and costs
concept is slightly higher in comparison with the output of of the DAB converter system. However, it can be easily seen
the one-stage concept. However, considering a lifetime of 20 that the two-stage concept is superior against the one-stage
years and a feed-in tariff of 0.15 e/kWh this increase of energy concept. This results from the relatively high cable costs and
leads to a significant higher income: The optimum designed the long distances within the offshore wind park. The break-
wind-park-cluster with a power rating of 240 MW generates even point of the two-stage concept can be determined at a
235 GWh more energy. The increase of energy yield with a rated wind-cluster power of 65 MW. Hence, three wind-turbine
480 MW wind park cluster is 735 GWh. This corresponds to strings (18 wind turbines with a total power of 90 MW) have
35 Me and 110 Me, respectively. to be installed to operate the system economically.
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