What began as mere windmills in the 1970s, barely able to generate 0.05MW of power, have matured into today’s modern wind turbines that are capable of producing more than 7.0MW each, with offshore prototypes attaining an output of as much as 12MW. Inside these high-performance machines, the rotor shaft bearing support is a vital component where the locating bearing is subjected to particularly high loads. These unique application conditions, combined with stringent reliability requirements and increasing incidents of failed bearings in the field, provided the impetus for an engineering project whereby Schaeffler set out to optimise the spherical roller bearings that are used as wind turbine main shaft bearings.
By Antonio Silverio and Anant Bhat, Schaeffler Group USA Inc.
Recent forecasts from the International Energy Agency (Offshore Wind Outlook 2019) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA, Future of Wind) suggest that offshore wind will grow dramatically. The IRENA report is especially bullish, suggesting annual installed capacity will grow from 4.5GW/y in 2018 to 45GW/y by 2050. This is slightly higher than the Offshore Wind Outlook 2019, which expects annual installations to reach 40GW/y by 2040.
Energy storage technologies will be crucial in overcoming one of the most challenging barriers to high renewable energy penetration, i.e. the mismatch between renewable energy supply and consumer demand. Ongoing work is focused on the development of a hydropneumatic energy storage technology, tailored for offshore applications, referred to as FLASC. Whether connecting offshore renewables to onshore grids or to energy-intensive oil and gas infrastructure, the technology is designed to act as an energy buffer, eliminating intermittency and delivering a schedulable energy output. The technology itself combines pressurised seawater and compressed air in a liquid piston embodiment. It avoids hazardous chemicals and is designed for a long lifetime (+25 years), independent of the charging/discharging regime. A small-scale prototype was deployed in the Grand Harbour of the central Mediterranean island of Malta. Having completed over 300 charging cycles, the prototype is the ultimate proof of concept of the technology and sets the foundation for future development leading to commercial applications.
By Daniel Buhagiar, Co-Founder FLASC and Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Malta
Drone-Borne Magnetic Technologies Provide New Opportunities for Mapping of UXO
Clearing of unexploded ordnance (UXO) is critical for the safe construction of offshore wind farms in old war zones. While most UXO is ferrous, the preferred mapping technique is by magnetic sensors. These are towed behind vessels in the offshore area, while a combination of small survey boats, all-terrain vehicles and walking personnel are often used to cover the near- and onshore cable landing point area. However, intertidal zones, such as the edges around the North Sea, are notoriously difficult to access by traditional mapping platforms. As a consequence, mapping of intertidal UXO is often incomplete and imprecise, which causes delays during the UXO clearing operation or, worse, safety issues and delays once the construction of the wind farm has begun. In this article, we present a case study by UMag Solutions and Ørsted from Hornsea II in the UK and explain the power of drone-borne magnetic mapping of intertidal UXO.
By Arne Døssing Andreasen, CEO, UMag Solutions, Denmark
The old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – a 16-fold return on investment in this case – is severely conservative when it comes to maintenance of wind turbine rotor blades. The cost of repairing early-stage damage – or even better, implementing remediation solutions for serial issues before damage occurs in most blades – is often minuscule compared with the cost of a single catastrophic failure. Within the next few years, the industry must evolve to a practice of routine scheduled inspections followed by proactive repair and remediation in order to minimise the life-cycle cost of ownership.
By Dr Kyle Wetzel, Vice President Blade Services, SkySpecs, USA
The northwestern coastal area of Sri Lanka is identified as a region with substantial wind power potential. Its favourable geographical location and terrain contribute to higher wind power generation there. Presently, the Sri Lankan government is promoting wind power generation in the country. Long-term power generation predictions are required for evaluating the financial viability of wind power plants. Therefore, the impact of climate change on wind power generation is significant. Wind and climate variability are inextricably interconnected. However, although much attention is given to the potential effects of climate change on surface temperatures and precipitation, there has been comparatively minor discussion or analysis of changes in wind speed.
By Mahinsasa Narayana and Kethaki Wickramaarachchi, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka
Autonomous Inspection of Offshore Turbine Marine Structures
Inspection of marine foundation structures and the immediate surrounding seabed is technically challenging, time-consuming and costly. Subsea inspection techniques draw more on the technology and procedures of other offshore sectors than on those of onshore wind. The inaccessibility of subsea structures means that maintenance checks are performed much less frequently than on the above-water components. Seabed scour is a stability issue around large pile/jacket structures, particularly in strong tidal flows. There are many potential risks associated with personnel and vessels working in close proximity to turbine structures for the extended periods needed for inspections. MarynSol is working to introduce viable, cost-effective solutions to the autonomous inspection of marine foundation structures, from seabed to splash zone.
Every week on our website and in our email newsletter we want to show you that wind energy is more than just technology. We therefore invite you to send stunning pictures of wind turbines inspired by “light” (in the broadest sense of the word).
After 52 submissions we will announce the winner of the year’s best picture!
Email your photo to Include turbine model, location and name of photographer. (size of the published photo will be 336 px width x 280 px high).
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