ABB drive and motor helps Narec to develop new marine renewable energy systems
Friday, May 31, 2020

An ABB medium voltage drive and 12-pole motor are providing the motive power for a new test facility for proving marine energy generating systems.

Project Nautilus, constructed at the National Renewable Energy Centre, Narec, in Blyth, Northumberland, is the world’s first drive train test facility dedicated to the requirements of the marine renewables sector. It aims to remove the risks associated with in-field power generation by allowing Narec’s customers to perform extreme event and accelerated lifetime testing of new tidal power generation devices in a controlled, onshore environment.

The test facility can mechanically and electrically load the complete drive train with the full envelope of loads, including side loads on to shafts. The ABB 3 MW drive system is capable of testing the complete drive train, electrical generation, control and support systems of marine renewable devices.

ABB was chosen for the project because it could supply a complete turnkey package of drive, motor, switchgear, ancillary equipment and the portable equipment buildings to house them. The company also has a proven track record of using this type of drive in similar test facilities.

A 12-pole 3,256 kW, water-cooled ABB motor acts as the prime mover in the test facility. The motor, which weighs almost 60 tonnes, is designed to develop a high torque with speed accuracy to meet the demands of the test programme. The motor uses hydrostatic bearings and a lubrication and jacking system is incorporated into the motor pedestal.

ABB’s ACS 6000 is a modular medium voltage AC drive system that can be configured in single or multidrive solutions on a common DC bus. The 3 MW drive system for Nautilus features a 24-pulse input rectifier for low harmonics. This feeds a common DC bus to which two 11 MVA rated inverter sections are connected.

The two inverter sections feed the prime mover motor double winding. A braking chopper is also connected to the DC bus. This allows fast braking of the test facility and device under test in the event of a process or emergency stop requirement and allows energy to be dissipated from the test facility in the event of a mains network power outage. The high power density and compact design and the drive’s communication abilities minimise the overall installation and operational costs.

ABB’s DriveMonitor system is fitted to the ACS 6000. This is an intelligent monitoring and diagnostic system and provides secure access to the drive from any location in the world. ABB also supplied medium and low voltage switchgear, and oil filled input transformer, three oil filled distribution transformers and two portable equipment buildings to house the ACS 6000 variable-speed drive, low voltage and medium voltage switchgear.

“We have been really pleased with ABB’s performance,” confirms Tony Quinn, Operations Director, Narec. “Projects of this nature are rare; they are one-off in terms of scale and technicalities. It takes a very special team to pull together and overcome the inevitable hurdles. ABB, with its extensive knowledge of test facilities and one-off projects, provided an exceptional project management team: they were positive, nimble and reactive. As Operations Director, my job is to get involved when things go wrong. I did not have to get involved with ABB at all.

ABB ( is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 145,000 people.

Source: ABB

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