in News Departments > New & Noteworthy
print the content item

Senior engineers from National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are expanding a research partnership with operators, utilities and turbine manufacturers to determine why some key wind turbine components tend to wear too soon - sometimes within a few years of installation.

Generally, wind turbines are expected to operate for 20 years. Early equipment fatigue, especially in wind turbine gearboxes, threatens to reduce performance and drive up wind power costs, just as the industry is poised to capture a greater share of U.S. generating capacity, according to NREL.

Improving reliability is key to generating a consistently competitive power source. Both are needed if wind power is to meet 20% of the nation's electricity needs by 2030 - a scenario a U.S. Department of Energy report issued last year says is feasible.

The tests at the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) focus on several aspects of gearbox performance, including the following:

- Automated spray lubrication. Wind turbines crank at low revolutions per minute under high torque, especially in the first stage of gearing, where heat and pressure are high. New designs have lubrication channeled directly to the bearing races.

- Oil cleanliness. New turbines have more aggressive filtration systems.

- Automated gearbox monitoring instruments. These systems are supposed to detect damaging operating conditions before a failure occurs.

- Micro-pitting. This phenomenon occurs as metal fatigue creates microscopic weak spots in gears that degrade the equipment over time.

- Load distributions on the gear tooth contacts and the bearing roller elements.

Initially, the gearboxes under review are being tested on the NWTC dynamometer, where NREL scientists will simulate a variety of loads and measure the results.

Later, the scientists plan to put one gearbox into test turbines at the Xcel Energy Ponnequin wind farm and monitor them under real load conditions. A second testing phase is likely to follow.

SOURCE: National Renewable Energy Laboratory




Trachte Inc._id1770
Latest Top Stories

The Song Remains The Same: Ontario Seeks More Science Before Lifting Offshore Ban

The Ontario government says the nearly four-year-old offshore wind moratorium will remain in place until the province fully understands the technology’s impact on the environment.


Why States Should Adopt A Renewable Portfolio Standard

A new study analyzes the potential benefits of state renewable energy mandates, as well as recommends what such policies should include.


Sen. Reid Vows To Bring Wind PTC To A Vote By Year's End

Nevada's senior senator provides some encouragement to wind industry advocates during his annual Clean Energy Summit.


Steadily, Wind Turbine OEMs Resume R&D Investment

An increased commitment to research and development will likely lead to wind energy innovation - not to mention a likely increase in patent-protected technology.


Quebec Government Postpones Wind Power RFP; No New Date Scheduled

The request for proposals (RFP) is part of an overall 800 MW wind power tranche that will serve as a bridge to the next phase in the province's energy future.

Renewable NRG_id1934
Canwea_id1984
Future Energy_id2008
UnitedEquip_id1995