Effective wind turbine maintenance & repair doesn’t have to be difficult. In this article, we explore common issues and reliable solutions for wind turbine maintenance and repairs, alongside the best products that can be used for this process.
Wind Turbine Maintenance
Wind turbine maintenance can be a tricky process without expert knowledge. Recent studies have determined the average lifespan of a wind turbine to be 20-25 years. This is due to the extreme wind and weathering forces that they are exposed to throughout their lifecycles. As a result, in order to optimise the function of wind turbines throughout their relatively short lifespans, manufacturers must invest in effective maintenance techniques.
Additionally, the global wind turbine maintenance market is estimated to hit a worth of $27 billion by 2025, representing a compound annual growth rate of 8.0%. This growth is accounted for by increasingly innovative products aimed at making wind turbine maintenance easier to achieve, cheaper to carry out, safer and more sustainable.
Wind Turbine Repair
Wind turbine repair can be a source of great distress, unexpected downtimes and unplanned costs for operators. In 2019 alone, wind turbine repairs cost the wind industry upwards of £6 billion. Unplanned failures within wind turbines can cause pre-emptive shutdowns, delayed delivery of energy and a loss of reliability.
The probability of unplanned failures can be reduced by carrying out regularly scheduled maintenance and investing in smart planning systems. However, even with maintenance programmes in place, wind turbines can still get damaged in a few ways which can only be solved by repairs.
Common Ways Wind Turbines Get Damaged
Wind turbines can get damaged and fail in various ways. Here we explore some common issues that lead to the necessity of wind turbine maintenance.
Gearbox failure is a common reason for maintenance amongst wind turbines. The gearbox accounts for roughly 13% of the overall cost of the turbine, making it an expensive component to replace. Wind turbine gearboxes typically fail as a result of the non-torsional loads that pass through the gearbox and the high speeds that their bearings must endure. Specifically, gearbox failure happens due to:
- Contaminated lubrication
- Improper bearing lubrication (bearings and gears make up 96 percent of the failing components within the gearbox.)
- Uneven load distribution due to inefficient bearing settings
- Low service factors
- Extreme wind levels
Blade failure is the most common reason for maintenance in wind turbines. Many manufacturers are producing increasingly larger turbine blades every year, in an attempt to produce more power. As a result, the blades are becoming more prone to failure due to the immense pressures they are subjected to. This risk of failure is amplified by the damage caused by bird strikes, lightning strikes and improper design. Blade failure is the most common case type of failure in wind turbines, with an estimated 3,800 cases of blade failure each year. Specifically, blade failure happens due to:
- Joint failure
- Cracks along the length of the blade
- Split fibres
Wind turbine generators, which are responsible for converting the kinetic energy of the blades into electrical energy, can often fail due to electrical issues. As the entire function of wind turbines depends on the generators, their failures can be very troublesome and frustrating. Additionally, generator failure can often lead to overheating and fires, causing potentially dangerous and costly situations.Generator failure typically happens due to:
- Contaminated lubrication
- Extreme temperatures affecting the electrical equipment (inadequate insulation)
- Excessive vibrational load
- Irregular voltage management
Best Products for Wind Turbine Maintenance
Expensive, time-consuming maintenance & repair tasks can be largely avoided through using high-quality adhesives, sealants and lubricants in the manufacturing process of wind turbines. It’s important that as a turbine operator or maintenance team, you have access to repair solutions that enable quick and easy application, enabling efficient and seamless maintenance & repairs.
Adhesives provide many benefits over mechanical bonding techniques due to their versatility to bond and repair efficiently in extremely demanding environments. Quality products provide benefits such as:
- Extend the lifespan and durability of components.
- Improve the efficiency of components.
- Provide resistance to extreme temperatures.
- Performance over wide load ranges
- Protect intricate components from vibrational damage.
- Strengthen the structure of the wind turbine.
- Accurate mixing and dispensing – saving time.
- Ease of repeatability.
Here we explore top products that can be used for the repair and maintenance of different parts of wind turbine blades.
Bonding Added Blade Elements
Lubrication of blade orientation
Here we explore top products that can be used for the repair and maintenance of different parts of wind turbine nacelles.
Joint sealing of assembled parts
Bearings (Yaw, Pitch & Main Shaft)
Here we explore top products that can be used for the repair and maintenance of different parts of wind turbine towers.