Time to address windmill operational and maintenance issues

India at Paris Climate Accord as per its initial commitment has promised to bring down its carbon emission intensity. The country joined 170 countries by signing the historic Paris Climate Agreement in 2017. As per the agreement the signatory countries will work towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming. India so far has been on track and showing resilient commitment to shift from coal-based power generation to renewable energy sources.

India is eyeing to produce around 40 per cent of its installed electricity capacity from non-fossil fuels by 2030. This would imply that it needs to produce approximately 100 GW from solar, around 60 GW from wind with the remaining being sourced via biomass and small hydropower plants.

In fact, going by Finland’s University of Technology (LUT) forecast, India has a huge potential to shift into a fully renewable electricity system by 2050. This optimistic forecast is backed by the fact that over 290 national and international players are looking to generate 266 GW renewable energy in India. With such bright market growth, the renewable and sustainable power generation programme is expected to attract investment of approximately $350 billion in the country.

The 2017 Storm

The wind energy sector of the country saw one of its rough phases in 2017. This was steered by the major overhaul with regards to policy issues, tariff determination and flat power demand. These changes in external factors lead to a sharp fall in capacity addition.

As per market data published by the Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association (IWTMA), new windmill installation was five-year low between April 2017 and March 2018. The country witnessed an addition of just 1,762 megawatts (MW) of capacity in 2017. This figure was a sharp fall from the record high of 5,400 MW in the previous year.

But slowly things are getting streamlined with policy uncertainties cleared and government showing equal interest in harnessing wind power. It earlier showed greater inclination towards solar power over other renewable source of power generation. With tariffs firming up, analysts are optimistic of price stability with no further fall that eventually hurt project feasibility.

The Other Factors

The wind owners or operators face other challenges that need to be addressed. A windmill when put in place requires ample land for installation. Besides, the operational and maintenance aspect pose a huge challenge for windmill owners. Since windmills are installed at remote location, it is practically impossible to monitor their performance or address unexpected showdowns immediately.

The maintenance and monitoring factor that plays a major role in ensuring continued operation of windmills. Usually owners make provision for planned maintenance and a small portion is set aside for unplanned maintenance. It is the unplanned maintenance cost that pinches the most.

Say for example if the windmill stops functioning for unknown reason. This would lead to stoppage of production, thereby affecting electricity supply which has negative impact on the revenue.

One of the major areas that requireattention is maintaining and monitoring the health of wind turbines. For owners it is practically impossible to monitor the operation on a day-to-day basis. Stationing a supervisor will only add to the cost of operation. 

The Solution

Thanks to technological advancement, windmill owners can keep a tab on the daily operation. There are instruments that help in monitoring the performance and also alert the owner on the issues that need to be addressed. This ensures that there are no unexpected downtimes.

There are several instrumentation companies that offer technically advanced, IoT enabled products that keep windmills optimally operational.

There are several well-known national and international instrumentation companies that now offer wide range of maintenance and monitoring products catering to the need of wind mill owners for Indian market. They have special products that cater to the requirement of windmills, addressing their core pain points.

Like the shaft alignment instruments that are custom-made with firmware features that ensure high measurement accuracy and with mounting hardware that is ideally suited for optimal alignment of the gearbox and generator shafts in wind turbines. No matter the manufacturer, coupling or turbine type. The shaft alignment instruments make generator-to-gearbox alignment inside any nacelle easy. This safeguards reliability and optimizes the energy efficiency of the wind turbine.

A good laser alignment tool like Fixturlaser comes with:

• A short learning curve

• Precision measurement

• Many mounting options for different turbines

• Solutions for non-rotating shafts

These instruments offer machine defined data with following features:

• User defined machine configuration templates

• Opens window for adding a new machine withdefined data

• Entered data, such as distances, target valuesand tolerances, will be saved

Additionally, have specific machines interface with following advantages:

• Predefined machine configuration templates

• Safe and efficient application that simplifies thealignment process

• Pre-set data, such as distances, target values andtolerances, will be saved

There are diagnostic instruments that help in monitoring wind turbines operation. With specialised instruments it becomes easier to maintain and operate wind mills. The advantage of such instruments includes:

• Faults can be detected months before any action has to be carried out.

• Production uptime can be increased, thanks to scheduled and targeted maintenance

• Operating lifetime of the turbine can be extended by preventing catastrophic and costly damages.

The accuracy and the diagnostic capabilities of the diagnostic instruments allows for maintenance process optimization with:

• Better spare parts management

• Pooling of replacement operations

• Removing systematic maintenance controls and their related costs.

Unlike other industries, wind turbines are not easily accessible whenever you want. Therefore wind turbines need reliable monitoring systems that can run autonomously for a long term service. There are brands like ACOEM Group’s OneProd KITEhas been designed specifically for wind turbines. Dustproof and Waterproof to IP51 grade, fan-less cooling system, resistant to lightning strikes, and embedded storage without a conventional spinning hard-drive: This instruments are designed for extended, reliable performance!

Part of the diagnosis process is to identify and detect any mechanical abnormality and which component generated it. The continuous change of operating conditions, however, creates a real nightmare for the analyst. Most systems just acquire as much data they can and leave the responsibility to the expert to rummage through an endless amount of data and indicators.

Scanning in real-time the operating status of the machine, KITE’s built-in intelligence allows catching the best data for diagnostic purposes. Irrelevant information measured during changing conditions can automatically be filtered out and eliminated. All captured data is tagged with extreme precision, allowing retention of only the most relevant information. The wind turbines’ health status can be collected with a very high accuracy relying on just a few key targeted indicators.

Wind turbines are usually monitored under narrow conditions, typically at 30% and 80% load. There are instrumentsand systems that come with no limits to the number of operating conditions managed. In addition to standard monitoring, it is possible to track yaw movements or structural / nacelle movements for troubleshooting purposes.

| Article published on 08/02/2019 by Moulin

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