It is necessary to optimize the performance of existing, aging wind turbine plants so as to reduce their operational and maintenance costs. The reliability of turbines decreases with age and the unavailability of or difficulty in finding the required spare parts for old models can greatly increase the operations and maintenance cost. The biggest challenge with regard to ageing or old wind turbines is maintaining the supply chain, which also includes various components of older turbine models and understanding the machine. The quality of maintenance, upgrades, and remote data analysis plays an important role in the optimal performance of ageing wind turbines.
Wear and tear occurring towards the end of a turbine’s life can be managed well by making use of a spare part and leveraging on remote diagnostics of the machines. Thus, there is a continual need for maintenance, boosting the global wind turbine operations and maintenance market. According to a report published by Transparency Market Research, the global wind turbine O&M market, which stood at US$9.3 bn in 2014, is likely to reach US$20.6 bn by 2023, expanding at a CAGR of 8.8% between 2015 and 2023.
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Use of Predictive Technologies to Boost Performance and Reduce Maintenance Cost of Old Wind Turbines
Condition monitoring systems (CMS), which enable forecasting component failure, are one of the predictive technologies that can be used to optimize the performance of the machines and also reduce the operation and maintenance costs. Sensors such as oil particle counters can extend the capabilities of diagnostic systems used for wind turbines. Main bearing damage detectors also have proven to be useful. Offline oil filtering systems increase the reliability and reduce maintenance costs of the hydraulic machines.
Upgrading Electrical Components to Increase Reliability and Reduce Operations and Maintenance Cost
Various components of a wind turbine such as blades, generator, inverter, brakes, and tower require regular maintenance and after a certain period of time start performing poorly. Upgrading the electrical components of wind turbines can ensure optimal to high performance of the machine and higher reliability. Upgrading thus helps in reducing maintenance costs. Installing remote monitoring systems can also increase the reliability and reduce operational costs.
Computerized, App-based Maintenance Support Systems for Ease of Turbine Inspection
SKF, a leading supplier of turbine components and services, has announced the development of a new analysis and support system that makes use of cloud-based data collection. Designed to improve the efficiency of inspection and reduce the cost of maintenance, this app provides turbine operators with real-time data on the performance and reliability of the machine. The app can run on both iOS and Android. With the help of this and other emerging developments, wind turbine operators can now move from analogue analysis and maintenance reports to online data collection methods, which are more accurate and efficient.