Reliability Project

Offshore Wind Turbine

The following reliability study will be looking at the performance of an offshore wind turbine which is used to generate electricity for the national grid. Wind turbines are an environmentally friendly method of generating electricity utilising wind energy to generate the power, they are becoming increasingly popular as they can provide very low cost electricity without any harmful emissions as with more traditional energy sources such as coal and gas. Wind turbines are not perfect and do have some negative points, these are largely to do with how they affect people through visual and noise pollution. In order to negate these two main issues wind turbines are now being moved away from land and out to sea where the effects they have on people are minimised. This move has allowed the use of much bigger turbines with longer blades, leading to improved efficiency, better conversion of wind energy and therefore reduced electricity prices for the customer. Placing these giant wind turbines in offshore areas creates new problems which must be addressed by the designers, one of the main issues being reliability. The increased size of the wind turbines means that each turbine individual output is much greater than previously, if a failure was to occur and a turbine stops, a much larger proportion of energy production is lost leading to potential energy shortages and blackouts. This in turns means that the continued operation of each turbine is essential and potential down time must be minimised. By studying the reliability of each component and the overall unit it is possible to determine if the current design is suitably reliable and if necessary, changes can be made to further increase its lifespan. The second major concern for the designers is the maintenance of the turbine. If a failure is to occur it is then vital that down time for energy production is minimised. With the now much larger offshore wind turbines maintenance is immediately made more difficult by the fact that it must be performed at sea and also the scale of components is much greater. It is therefore vital that all possible steps are taken to ensure maintenance can be performed easily and in as little time as possible. In order to do this, potential failure areas must be studied and consideration given as to how they may be rectified once failed. The following reliability study and report will look at offshore wind turbine design and asses the reliability and maintenance of them through use of tools such as FMMA, FMEA, FMECA, HAZOP and FTA. The results of this will allow the main areas of unreliability and probable causes of failure to be identified and a report produced indicating current performance and possible improvements.


Control systems Control systems of the wind turbine include items such as wind speed/direction measurement which then allow the system to alter blade pitch and turbine yaw accordingly. ahead of the gearbox and is usually of roller bearing type able to support both the axial loads (wind pressure on the rotor) and radial loads (weight of the blades). processes and systems which make up a wind turbine and provide a brief description of each.5 metres long and produced in carbon fibre giving an excellent strength to weight ratio. Foundations/Base 2 . This basically incorporates all computer controlled processes performed by systems within the turbine.Reliability Project Offshore Wind Turbine Hardware Overview This section will look at the main hardware. Diagnostic systems used to indicate problems or failures to the Energy Company and also systems which measure the performance of the turbine. Brake The system brake utilises a disc and calliper arrangement which allows the speed of rotation of the turbine to be reduced if necessary when for example the turbine speed becomes too great or if it must be stopped in order for maintenance to be performed. They are an aerofoil design which as the wind passes over the surface creates low pressure one size and high pressure the other resulting in movement. this is an essential component as it supports the entire weight of the rotor (which can be up to 100 tons on a 5MW turbine) and ensures that it can rotate freely minimising friction. In terms of operation the mechanism which operates the brake unlocks it during use so that should a failure occur the brake fails in the locked position. The blades are 61. Blades (Rotor) The rotor blades are essential components of the turbine as they produce the turning effect which drives the generator. It is positioned directly behind the rotor hub. The pitch of the blades can be controlled at the hub depending on wind conditions in order to increase/reduce their aerodynamic effectiveness and therefore rotor speed. Due to the size of loads placed on the bearing a lubrication system is required to ensure continued operation. The brake is mounted on the turbines main shaft and is electro-mechanically operated. Bearing (Main) The main bearing of the turbine supports the main shaft on which the blades rotate. Additional features of the control systems are navigation controls and warning systems to alert ships to the presence of the turbine.

This tower is of steel design and width its diameter is dependant upon the conditions in which it is placed. This consists of a pump and oil cooler which cools the heated fluid once it has been pumped around the bearing. If wind and tidal effects are especially powerful a larger diameter tower is required. The tower terminates at the foundations of the turbine and stands double the blade 3 . and must provide a stable base for the turbine to operate while supporting the weight of the mechanism at the top. The same lubrication system is also services the turbine gearbox.e. Generator The generator is the component which converts the kinetic energy of the rotating blades and shaft into electrical energy which is sent to the national grid. Support Tower The supporting tower of the wind turbine is the main structural component.Reliability Project Offshore Wind Turbine The foundations/base of the wind turbine is the component below sea level used to anchor the entire structure securely to withstand both wind and tidal forces. in this case at a transitional depth between deep and shallow water of 40m. This combined with the ballast keeps the tower erect. it is not sunk into the seabed at all. The generator uses magnets rotated by the input shaft placed around a coil to induce a current and generate the electricity. The actual base of the tower uses the most common gravity foundation which is a heavy base spread over a wide area resting on the seabed i. Lubrication system Due to the size of the main roller bearing and the load placed upon it a separate lubrication system is required to ensure its continued operation. Input is the low speed drive taken from the main shaft (blades) and the output is the higher speed shaft which goes to the generator. The hollow tower design allows access through the centre to the top of the tower and provision can also be made for a service crane to aid repairs. Often offshore conditions require that it is also possible to heat the lubricating fluid when external temperatures drop to extreme lows. The gearbox sits behind the main bearing and is a planetary type minimising the space required and allowing a large increase in shaft speed. The speed of rotation of the magnets within the generator is vital as high speed operation is necessary to generate useful current within the coil. This incorporates the base of the tower which reaches down to the seabed and is then supported by tethered ballast which is spread away from the central tower to provide greater stability. The generator in this case is of 5MW capacity. this is why a gearbox is necessary earlier in the drive system. It is essential that the foundations do not deteriorate over time and corrosion prevention is incorporated Gearbox A gearbox is necessary in a wind turbine to convert the low speed rotation of the blades into the high speed rotation necessary for the generator to produce electricity.

4 .mechanically controlled using a geared motor and provision is made to lock the direction in which the turbine faces. The outer shell is essential in maintaining the optimal climate in which the machinery inside operates. Movement of the unit is electro. Yaw Control System This system controls the direction in which the turbine faces. Outer Casing The outer casing of the turbine mechanism is used to isolate the machinery from sea air. The purpose of the system is to allows the rotor to be slowed in high wind speeds by reducing the efficiency of the aerofoil and is also used to increase the efficiency in low wind speeds. In this case it will be a 120m tall tower which also extends 40m below water to the seabed. allowing the entire turbine unit and blades to rotate. it is painted in high quality paint to reduce the risk of corrosion.Reliability Project Offshore Wind Turbine length above the water. The adjustment takes place at the base of the blades in the hub where a separate electro-mechanical system is used to move the each blade. Use of this system requires a large ball bearing placed between the tower and turbine unit taking the axial load (weight of turbine). Provision is also made to prevent the twisting of power cables running from the generator down into the tower during movement of the turbine. The casing is produced from high grade steel and incorporates warning lights to alert passing vessels. Rotor Pitch Control This allows the pitch of each blade to be individually altered depending on the wind conditions detected by the turbine control unit. It allows turbine speed to be altered without the use of the internal braking mechanism which creates energy losses. rain and also lightening strikes which can occur frequently to such tall structures placed at sea. the electronic control system senses wind direction and adjusts the turbine yaw for optimal energy production.

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