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Essex firm develops alternative to rare earth magnets

GreenSpur Renewables

 

Essex company GreenSpur Renewables is set to eliminate the need for costly rare earth magnets in turbines.

It has developed a new type of generator which does away with the requirement for expensive rare earth magnets. This, said the company, changes the future of global supply chains, as well as drastically reducing the cost of wind energy.

Direct Drive generators are a vital part of offshore wind energy as operators shying away from unreliable gearboxes – however the generators‘ need for rare-earth magnets, which are mainly produced in China, means they are an expensive alternative, with the market effectively subject to a monopoly.

GreenSpur Renewables, the latest British company to feature in the Backing the Game Changers series showcasing the most exciting developments brought to the sector in the UK, aim to break the monopoly with a new type of generator. This uses readily available ferrite magnets, which are 40 times cheaper than their rare earth equivalents.

In developing the technology, GreenSpur started working with the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult to respond to an Innovate UK funding call. After forming a working relationship, the company tested a scale 75kW generator at ORE Catapult’s test rig in Blyth last year. They then signed an agreement with ORE Catapult and Warwick Manufacturing Group to build a 250kW direct drive generator, with the support of a £1.25million grant award from Innovate UK.

Andy Tipping, commercialisation manager at ORE Catapult said: “We are now working to develop a UK based supply chain and plan to establish a manufacturing operation within three years. Scaling up short term production in the UK could create 200 new manufacturing jobs plus a further 70 in the supply chain. If the technology is deployed at the 2GW to 3GW level, it could lead to the creation of over 3,000 new UK jobs.”

The Backing the Game Changers website is home to a series of films showcasing the work of UK SMEs and individuals who are making their mark on the offshore renewable energy sector.

 

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