Wind based electric generation is one of the fastest growing energy sources in the world. With rapid development of wind farms, many challenges have emerged with respect to the reliability and availability of the in-service equipment. Additionally, with increasing size of wind turbine blades, both onshore and offshore, the serviceability and maintainability of the equipment poses its own unique challenge. There is also an inherent risk from the economics of energy production, which dictates that low-cost manufacturing methods are employed to produce cost-effective machines.
In our experience, there are additional risks associated with supply chains and limited availability and understanding of damage mechanisms and reliability data of the myriad manufacturers and models of turbines, blade design and associated equipment. Failure of different components results in different outage times and therefore impact operational and maintenance (O&M) costs in different ways. Achieving high availability targets requires a robust O&M plan.
The authors will highlight operational risks of large wind turbines and methodologies to improve reliability and availability for wind farms.