New technology expected to drive down wind energy costs

E.ON Climate and Renewables have teamed up with UK-based bearings and gearboxes specialist Romax Technology on a project aimed at driving down wind costs by predicting the lifespan and maintenance needs of critical turbine drivetrain components.

Operations and maintenance can account for up to 25 per cent of a wind power project’s cost and the Equivalent Operating Hours aims to help operators schedule work more effectively.

The system takes in factors including service history, local operating conditions and the “effects of transient events” and uses “predictive methods based on advanced algorithms” to provide real-time forecast updates for the components’ remaining life, said Romax.
E.ON building
Romax contract relationship manager Nigel Parlor told Re-News: “Without planning beforehand, maintenance of offshore wind turbines can be time-consuming and costly.

“Operations typically require specialist equipment such as jack-up vessels and cranes, which have to be factored into specific weather windows.

“With EOH, we aim to provide wind turbine owners and operators with the ability to pre-empt when turbine drivetrain components are coming to their end of life and be in a position to schedule any maintenance in advance, leading to significant cost savings.”

The technology is being trialled at one offshore wind facility and so far its models have performed well and the scheme has been extended to a further two onshore and two offshore projects. It is scheduled for completion in 2017.

Eon (FWB: EOAN) Climate & Renewables director of technology and innovation Jörgen Bodin said: “Early indications have suggested a significant return on investment from using this predictive programme.”

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