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Intelligent power convertors improve wind turbine reliability

Amantys team
3 November 2011

New technology that will improve the reliability of electrical power conversion systems has been licensed to the Cambridge firm Amantys by Warwick Ventures.

The technology was developed by Dr Angus Bryant, working at the University of Warwick, in partnership with Professor Patrick Palmer of Cambridge University. It offers a way of predicting failures in electric power conversion systems.

As power is generated, transmitted, distributed and consumed, it has to be converted at each stage; different voltage levels and AC to DC or DC to AC. Reliable and efficient power convertors are becoming increasingly important as more electricity is being provided by small renewable generators and transport is becoming increasingly electrified (cars, ships and planes).

The technology that Amantys is developing enables power to be switched more efficiently at medium and high voltages. These switches must be able to withstand very high voltages and a number of them are usually used in series to share the voltage. By controlling the switching characteristics of each these switches up to 50% of their switching losses can be saved.

If one of the switches fails, however, the entire circuit will be downgraded. Amantys is working on a solution to this, which will transform the design of power electronics systems. The technology developed at the University of Warwick works in conjunction with Amantys’ innovations. It monitors the outputs of the switch and uses that information to predict future power switch degradation.

This technology could be extremely valuable in improving the reliability of power generating systems. For example, a remote power generator, such as a wind turbine in the North Sea, could give an early warning that it has a potential failure. A maintenance engineer can then reach the turbine to resolve the problem during a period of calm weather and before the fault causes a system failure.

Kevin Marks, Business Development Manager for Warwick Ventures, says: “Being able to predict wear and tear and therefore life expectancy of these power convertors will be of huge benefit, particularly for renewable energy power convertors, which are often situated in remote areas. Currently, for example, up to a third of wind turbines in the North Sea are out of action due to failed convertors, gear boxes and other maintenance issues.”

Bryn Parry, CEO of Amantys commented “Cost per MWh is the metric that drives the renewable energy industry. The Warwick intellectual property combined with the Amantys technology offers a way to improve the reliability and directly improve the Cost per MWh of renewable energy.”

The licence has been granted to Amantys for the patent’s lifetime, and is worldwide and exclusive.

About Amantys

Amantys's mission is to deliver an intelligent power switch that dramatically improves the energy efficiency, effectiveness and reliability of power switching electronics, and so reducing the amount of waste energy dissipated as heat.

The company was founded by Pete Magowan as Chairman, Bryn Parry and Mark Snook as CEO and Technical Director respectively, all experienced executives from ARM Limited, leveraging research from Patrick Palmer from Cambridge University. Amantys has recently been selected as a finalist in the 2011 Elektra awards as well as featuring in the Cleantech 100 list for 2011. For more information please visit


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