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Condition monitoring of wind turbines


The aim of the research was to investigate the different condition monitoring techniques that may be applicable for wind turbines, explore their potential application in wind turbines, and examine the relative costs and benefits of condition monitoring systems for wind turbines.


The research comprised a cost-benefit analysis, which included empirical data gathered from the Renewable Energy Information System on Internet (REISI), which provides product information and operational results from 1500 operational wind turbines currently operating in Germany and Denmark, empirical data from SKM’s experience of the operation and maintenance of the Penrhyddlan and Llidiartywaun (P&L) windfarm near Newton in Wales, and anecdotal evidence from interviews with operations staff, subject matter experts, machine suppliers and equipment suppliers.


The report finds that condition monitoring systems have the potential to not only pay for its own installation but provide increased lifecycle earnings for the owners of wind farms through increased availability and decreased maintenance costs. The cost benefit analysis demonstrates the application of condition monitoring systems is extremely cost sensitive. It is reported that the increased availability which should be achieved from installing a system will be in the order of one additional day of generation per machine per year. The additional benefits of installing a condition monitoring system include the reduced requirement for insurance-led overhaul and the potential for avoidance of secondary damage from a catastrophic fault. In the second case the potential for avoidance of damage may valued at several tens of thousands of pounds but is difficult to quantify as off-line condition monitoring will be conducted routinely.


The report recommends that there is merit in exploring further the benefits and advantages of condition-based maintenance (CBM) technologies and on the potential for a retrofit business activity based on novel, low cost CBM technologies. It suggests that work is required in the following areas: greater depth evaluation of CBM systems being developed by major manufacturers; further discussion and analysis of existing evaluations of CBM systems; further analysis of work being undertaken by independent plant technical services companies on the development of retrofit condition monitoring systems; and analysis of CBM in other industries and the potential transfer of technologies to the wind farm industry.

Author Sinclair Knight Merz (for ITI Energy)
Published Year 2010
Report Type Research
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