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Published: 01 November 2016 01 November 2016

Extending the lifetime of wind turbines

On average the lifetime of a wind turbine is a minimum of 20 years but nowadays owners, developers and manufacturers are trying to extend the lifetime of turbines to lower the levelised cost of energy (LCOE). For instance, this is done by retrofitting older turbines with a modern control system that provides the turbine owner with improvements in relation to remote monitoring, control and root cause analysis. There are already standardised solutions available on the market for specific turbine models and the OEMs are also offering solutions to extend the lifetime of their turbine models.

Lately, predictive maintenance is a topic getting a lot of attention. There are several companies active that can use software solutions to analyse the condition of a certain turbine and/or component to predict how long the turbine and its components will last. Each wind turbine has an individual lifetime, which is affected by the on-site wind conditions. Using an analytical approach, the lifetime of each wind turbine main component can be calculated, the weak points can be determined and the risk of damage caused by fatigue can be reduced. Knowledge of the overall wind turbine lifetime serves as a basis for reliable organisational and financial decisions and helps to extend the lifetime. In the article on page 6, Jürgen Holzmüller from the 8.2 Group describes how they use an aeroelastic simulation model to calculate the individual overall lifetime for each main component. Such analysis enables operators, project developers and investors to plan for each turbine individually.

In the article on page 19 the authors focus on the service life of a specific component: blade bearings. The article gives a brief overview of the current problems of blade bearings then focuses on the tribological challenges like fatigue life calculation of oscillating bearings, different wear damage modes like false brinelling and fretting wear, grease lubrication and the contact conditions occurring under different operating environments.

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Enjoy reading,

Floris Siteur

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