Wind energy has long played a pivotal role in Australia’s renewable energy portfolio, harnessing the nation’s natural wind resources to power homes, businesses and industries. With the Federal Government’s recent initiatives supporting offshore wind projects, opportunities for wind generation are rapid expanding.
As with any rapidly adopted technology, wind power presents distinct challenges that can prevent operators from getting the most out of their investment. For instance, the intricate design and sheer height of wind turbines means maintenance is a complicated undertaking that demands specialised skills and equipment.
These towering structures, often reaching several hundred feet in the air, require highly trained technicians who can safely navigate both the heights and the complex mechanical components. Additionally, many wind farms are situated in remote locations, creating logistical challenges for maintenance crews.
Turbine blades are sensitive equipment, susceptible to wear and tear from continuous exposure to varying wind speeds and weather conditions, necessitating meticulous inspection and repair processes.
Even minor damages can significantly impact the turbine’s efficiency and overall energy production, emphasising the need for regular maintenance checks and prompt repairs.
Given these challenges, wind farm operators must take a proactive approach to turbine maintenance, harnessing the most cutting-edge tools available to achieve minimal downtime and optimal energy output.
Here we offer four essential tips for getting the most out of wind turbines.
1. Streamline yaw brake replacement
The yaw system of a wind turbine refers to the mechanism that allows the turbine to turn horizontally so that it can face directly into the oncoming wind. It typically consists of motors and sensors that detect wind direction.
Based on this information, the motors adjust the position of the turbine to ensure it is always facing into the wind. By doing so, the turbine blades are able to capture the wind’s kinetic energy most effectively, maximising the efficiency of the wind turbine.
Proper yaw control is essential for optimising energy output and ensuring the longevity of the turbine by minimising stress on its structure during varying wind conditions.
However, yaw brake replacement can often pose a challenge for wind turbine operators. Small yaw brake callipers can weigh up to 60kg, whereas a large yaw brake can reach 200kg. With some turbines featuring up to 20 yaw brakes to control their position, this places great strain on maintenance personnel, especially given the scale of modern wind farms.
Many turbines do not have in-built elevators either, so maintenance personnel may have to climb a 100m high ladder before repairs can even commence. Fortunately, Regal Rexnord’s Yaw Brake Lifting and Installation Tool can enable easy interchange of yaw brakes in-situ, eliminating the need for heavy lifting by personnel.
Brakes can be attached to the tool and lowered down to the floor for maintenance work, then reassembled units raised and installed quickly. This improves work conditions and speed, supporting greater efficiency when it comes to turbine maintenance and minimising turbine downtime. The Yaw Brake Lifting and Installation Tool is available in various configurations to suit multiple turbines. Weighing in at around 40kg, it can be easily transported too.
2. Conduct up-tower maintenance on-site
Traditionally, servicing yaw brake discs required the complete disassembly of the large turbine nacelle, and components had to be transported elsewhere for maintenance, costing operators valuable time and resources. As wind turbines pivot to align with the wind, these discs naturally experience wear, and minor imperfections can escalate, disrupting the smoothness of the disc surface. Consequently, braking performance declines until eventual failure.
Replacing the disc can be a time-consuming procedure, involving the use of cranes, which amplifies costs, prolongs downtime and diminishes energy output. Using a portable Disc Resurfacing Tool, up-tower operations can be carried out on-site with increased speed while not the refurbishment. Featuring a milling machine compromising that quickly replanes the disc, Regal Rexnord’s Disc Resurfacing
Tool can operate inside the turbine nacelle, thanks to a compact and lightweight design. Simply mounted onto a yaw brake mounting position, the tool eliminates the need for nacelle disassembly. This eases maintenance work, while maximising energy output via reduced downtime and minimising cost.
3. Employ tried-and-tested expert solutions
To optimise wind energy output, it’s crucial to have access to a specialised expert capable of swiftly delivering comprehensive solutions. This expertise ensures turbine reliability, enhancing efficiency by minimising disruptions to energy production.
Regal Rexnord develops its products in close partnership with onshore wind turbine OEMs, shaping its components and assemblies to suit designs from the initial prototype phase. Turbine operators can be assured that all braking systems have undergone rigorous testing in cold, hot and humid weather conditions to guarantee performance.
Replacement components and assemblies are guaranteed OEM quality, adhering to break specifications, thus delivering the utmost reliability in application. Regal Rexnord also offers aftermarket support for various turbine parts, including but not limited to brakes, pads, pistons and seal kits. Employing a turnkey approach throughout the turbine lifecycle allows for exceptional product performance and quality assurance. The end result is extended service intervals, allowing for onshore turbines to spend longer producing valuable energy.
4. Secure 24/7 support
As early installations grow older and the installed wind turbine fleet increases, responsive maintenance support is incredibly important for reducing unforeseen downtime. Regal Rexnord offers its customers 24/7, 365 days-a-year global maintenance support via a dedicated service app. Maintenance engineers around the world can message or call experts at any time to access key technical information and guidance for critical repairs, enabling a swift resolution for any issue.
Through a combination of the latest tools and continuous expert support, wind farm operators can overcome the challenges of turbine maintenance and significantly optimise wind turbine efficiency, ultimately ensuring the long-term viability of wind power as a sustainable energy source.
This sponsored editorial is brought to you by Regal Rexnord. For more information about how Regal Rexnord Australia can help you maximise wind turbine efficiency, head to www.regalrexnord.com