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December 2010

Augered piles are ideally suited for use in wind tower applications

Used successfully on many types of structures, including high-rise buildings and nuclear power plants, augered piles are ideally suited for use in wind tower applications.

Auger cast piles (augered or displacement)—also known as augered piles, augered cast in place (ACIP) piles, or continuous flight auger (CFA) piles—are a cost-effective deep foundation system that can be tailored to most soil, groundwater, and loading conditions. The piles are normally installed using a crane with free-hanging leads, but can also be installed using […]
Mike Smith, PE

Most large-scale wind farms are remote, making theft and vandalism a concern

By their very nature, most large-scale wind farms are fairly remote, making theft and vandalism a very real concern. Here are some ways to deter the damage.

Security of a wind project is a task that typically goes hand in hand with maintaining the assets and assuring high availability for the project owner. Unfortunately, some aspects of project performance can be cut short by the intentional efforts of others, specifically thieves and vandals. They can directly impact the success of a project […]
Merritt Brown

Wind industry must continue to improve technologies and pave the way for offshore development

As the leader of the clean energy portfolio, wind industry must continue to improve the available technologies and pave the way for markets such as offshore development.

The current growth of wind energy in the U.S. has been enabled by a significant number of viable land-based installations that today represents over 36 GW of installed capacity, translating to approximately 2 percent of our energy consumption. Although developers will continue to pursue economically feasible land-based sites to install projects, concerns or limitations in […]
Jose R. Zayas

Increased turbine production means increased transportation and logistics equipment

Meeting potential wind power goals in the U.S. will not only require increased turbine production, but also transportation and logistics equipment — and the expertise to match.

Industry data shows that the demand for wind-generated power in the United States is growing, driven by a Department of Energy goal to increase domestic electricity production from wind power by 20 percent over the next 20 years. After China, the U.S. is the second-fastest growing wind market, and despite the recession it continued to […]
Hüseyin Kizilagac

October 2010

Vibro compaction is an economical alternative to deep foundation systems

When performed properly, vibro compaction is an efficient and economical alternative to traditional deep foundation systems for many wind turbine sites with loose granular soil conditions.

A deep foundation system consisting of a mono-pole or drilled/driven piles is often recommended by the geotechnical engineer when the geotechnical exploration at a planned wind turbine tower location reveals that the subsurface conditions consist of loose, clean, granular soils (sands and silty sands). However, often the loose soils may be improved economically to enable […]
Mark Plaskett, PE

Bolting techniques, part 2

In this conclusion of a two-part series, the author continues his discussion of proper bolt-tensioning techniques, providing tips on how to avoid the related failure and downtime.

In the September installment of this column we began discussing various ways to avoid turbine failure resulting from bolt failure and/or improper bolting assembly techniques. We closed our conversation during an examination of the relationship between torque and tension, and the role lubricants play. The purpose of lubrication is to ensure that the applied torque […]
Merritt Brown

Turbines affect on national security

In addition to obvious siting factors such as location and productivity, national security concerns such as the effect turbines have on radar must also be taken into consideration.

The siting of a wind farm project can be a lengthy, costly, and a complicated process once a developer takes into account the different requirements. Not only is it critical to identify a site on its resource viability, environmental impact assessments, transmission, and interconnection availability are just a couple of the required processes that must […]
Jose R. Zayas

Wind projects in developing countries

The potential for wind projects in developing countries is growing in leaps and bounds, which will create logistics challenges. Here’€™s what you should know, and do.

Wind energy potential in a number of developing and emerging countries could be substantial. A recent U.N. wind study of countries from China to Nicaragua show approximately 13 percent of the land area has potential for development, compared to just 1 percent a number of years ago when wind potential was based on unreliable data. […]
Hüseyin Kizilagac

September 2010

Bolting applications, part 1

If you see to the little things, the big things will take care of themselves. That‒s certainly true in bolting applications, as this a two-part series makes clear.

It is never a pretty sight to see a wind turbine collapse. Whether it is material fatigue, defective parts, or severe weather that play a role, the fall is likely to be its final act, sending 200 tons of technology crashing to complete destruction. The industry landscape is mottled with such catastrophic turbine failures in […]
Merritt Brown

Next-generation wind turbines will be smarter, more efficient, and more reliable than ever before

According to Wikipedia, innovation is a change in the thought process for doing something, or the useful application of new inventions or discoveries. It may refer to an incremental emergent or radical and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations. Since the global acceptance of the utility-tied, three-bladed upwind configuration over 30 years ago […]
Jose R. Zayas

Achieving successful repowering projects

Successful repowering projects can only be achieved by considering the transportation and logistics challenges of removal and replacement of wind power structures.

Renewable energy is certainly living up to its name. To provide greater wind production and lower operational costs, wind farm “repowering” is emerging as a significant factor in an evolving wind power marketplace. Components at highly productive wind farm sites older than 10 years are candidates for upgrading, especially where small- and mid-sized turbines are […]
Hüseyin Kizilagac

August 2010

Remote monitoring allows Q&M professionals to check turbine conditions in real time

Turbine manufacturers typically offer a turbine availability guarantee during warranty at 97 percent, and well-maintained projects with the right technology can achieve levels higher than this whether they are covered under warranty or not. In achieving these levels the operator must have a close relationship with the turbines, not only with adept skills in preventative […]
Merritt Brown

Focusing on wind turbine controls

Wind turbine blades are growing larger, so research must be focused on several multidisciplinary areas €”one in particular being wind turbine controls.

As wind turbines continue to grow in size, reports such as the “DOE 20% Wind by 2030” capture the advantages of larger and more technologically advanced rotors and their potential for increasing energy capture without having an adverse effect on turbine capital cost. However, increased rotor size is only beneficial if other system costs are […]
David Wilson, Jose R. Zayas

Having an emergency logistics plan for replacement components

When you fall ill or have a medical emergency, you know whom to call. It is the same with wind power maintenance issues. When your wind components are “under the weather”—perhaps literally—you need to be sure you have the right resources in place to provide emergency service solutions. The list of parts that can suddenly […]
Hüseyin Kizilagac

July 2010

A vibrant and valuable aftermarket

In a post-warranty environment, owners and operators who seek to reduce O&M costs through parts management must begin with an understanding of the cost elements associated with wind farm operation. Ideally, inventory spares need to be close enough to ensure minimum downtime of the turbine asset. If the operator can predict which parts will be […]
Merritt Brown

Accurate computer-based design programs are crucial for high system reliability

Wind manufacturers continue to pursue the design and development of larger machines with larger, lighter, and more-efficient rotors. Along with growth in machine size, the capital investment for each individual wind power plant is increasing as well. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that new designs be manufactured having no major systematic flaws as they […]
Jose R. Zayas, Todd Griffith

Controlling offshore supply chain costs

Your supply chain is only as strong as the weakest link, so don’t let uncontrollable offshore supply chain costs get you in deep water.

Wind farm management, especially offshore, is a matter of economy: generate greater amounts of energy per area, and reduce the cost per megawatt. However, as the industry continues to evolve to meet enhanced power production, it also means increased challenges and risks for project managers—unknowns that push the boundaries of being able to control the […]
Hüseyin Kizilagac

June 2010

Remote Condition Management

Not only does the CMaS system from Moventas gather critical data while your turbines are in operation, it is analyzed by a team of experts to help ward off unexpected failure.

The Moventas CMaS (condition management system) is a remote monitoring system for wind turbine gears. It recognizes possible damages in gears and other mechanical components in advance, even before they start to interfere with the turbine operations. The system consists of different sensors and the main unit, which collects and processes the measured data. The […]
Antti Turunen

Constructing Cable Confidence

By gaining insights into each other’s worlds, two companies have built a longstanding relationship from which they both benefit.

The winds of change have definitely been blowing at Consulting Engineers Group (CEG). A wholly owned subsidiary of Dakota Electric Association that provides high-quality, high-tech transmission and distribution engineering to the utility market, CEG has turned its attention to the burgeoning wind power market over the past five years, focusing on design and build work […]
Scott Rowles

The Hidden Costs of Ownership

By understanding and addressing a host of related issues, wind turbine buyers and owners can avoid a host of hidden costs. Here’s how.

The purchase of a wind turbine is obviously a major financial commitment, not simply in terms of the cost of purchasing and erecting the wind turbine but also the ongoing cost of maintenance and repair. Beyond the costs that are plainly spelled out in the turbine supply agreement and service and maintenance contract, there are […]
Wm. Christopher Penwell

May 2010

The technology and concept behind soil mixing

Soil mixing is an economical and efficient alternative to deep foundations for challenging sites, particularly for wind turbine foundation applications.

Soil mixing techniques are used to mechanically blend soils in place with cementitious material to improve the soil engineering properties such as strength and compressibility. This installment discusses the soil mixing concept and technology. Oftentimes the engineer has no influence over the location of the wind energy site and has to design the foundation around […]
Dennis W. Boehm

Turbine reliability a crucial part of success

In order to increase reliability and service life, there are a number of areas wind turbine owners can address. Here’s what you need to know.

As the U.S. wind industry begins a trend of increased post-warranty operations, owners are taking aim at turbine reliability as a critical aspect in the success of a wind project. Inarguably, poor reliability results in increased O&M costs, accompanied by a reduction in availability and increased downtime. Modern turbines unfortunately have a relatively short operating […]
Merritt Brown

A look at turbine noise

Research into aero-acoustic properties will result in both the improved efficiency of wind turbines and increased siting opportunities, as the associated noise is decreased.

As the industry continues to grow and develop and with wind turbines continuing to be deployed across the nation, the likelihood of wind farms being sited near inhabited areas increases. An important constraint on wind turbine placement arises due to the consideration of wind turbine noise. As a key design metric, the noise generated by […]
Jose R. Zayas, Matt Barone

Harnessing the power of offshore wind

Offshore energy production is on the rise around the world, which will present logistical challenges requiring knowledgeable partners to overcome.

Offshore energy production is gaining traction as consumption of electricity from conventional sources declines and renewable sources continue to grow. Countries and companies alike are gaining confidence in this relatively new opportunity for renewable power. Offshore wind velocity is generally higher and the wind more consistent, compared to onshore winds. That can provide greater capacity, […]
Hüseyin Kizilagac

April 2010

The Future of Wind Turbine Diagnostics

As wind turbines increase in size, and their operating conditions become more extreme, a number of current and future tribological challenges exist.

Wind energy is undergoing expansion, and it is bound to grow to a commercial/consumer level in the decades to come. This growth has materialized in the form of large-scale wind farms, wind energy cooperatives, wind turbines owned by individual investors, and multinational exploration of remote sites and offshore locations. Despite the increasing rated capacity of […]
Anoop Verma, Andrew Kusiak, Ph.D.

Compaction grouting has multiple advantages

Compaction grouting is the only soil improvement technique that can be used both pre-construction and beneath an in-place foundation.

When the site of a planned wind tower is underlain by sufficiently dense granular soils, a mat foundation can be designed to safely support the structure. If the soils are too loose they may provide insufficient bearing capacity, result in excessive static deformation, or undergo unacceptable performance during a seismic event (liquefaction or excessive dynamic […]
James D. Hussin

Transporting components can affect long-term profitability

How your turbine is handled prior to going online can take a definite toll on its service life, and inspections can reveal damage before the warranty period draws to a close.

The owner of a newly commissioned wind project can generally expect a full return of their investment over 20 years. After all, despite the uncertainty of wind resources and future O&M costs, the project’s financial return is modeled on the life expectancy the manufacturer has designed into its turbine, providing some 158,000 MWh of power […]
Merritt Brown

Equipment shortage possible on a global scale

Demand for transport and equipment could soon outpace supply, so choose an experienced logistics solutions partner to help ensure you’re not left hanging in the wind.

In the January issue we noted that 2010 promises to be a challenge for the wind power industry as general equipment availability and transport capacity begins to tighten up, placing additional constraints on supply chains. As more countries enter the market, the shortage of equipment to transport and to erect wind farms will be felt […]
Hüseyin Kizilagac

March 2010

Loose ground can create foundation design challenges

When conducting site remediation, jet grouting is one technique to consider for improving poor soils without removing the existing structure.

Soft or loose ground at the site of a new tower can pose challenges to the design of the foundation. Jet grouting can modify this ground into soilcrete; a cemented material significantly stronger than soil. Wind tower foundations bearing on soft or loose ground can experience excessive settlement and bearing capacity failure. If identified prior […]
George K. Burke, P.E.

O&M issues to increase through the decade

Pre-end of warranty inspections assess the service history of a project, vet out troubled turbines, and provide owners with an expectation for post-warranty costs.

By the end of 2010, for the first time in U.S. history more wind turbines will be operating out of warranty than will be covered. This trend will continue through the decade, causing maintenance and repair to become larger issues for project owners. Unscheduled maintenance costs that have degraded profits of turbine manufacturers during the […]
Merritt Brown

Wind systems have gotten more effective and reliable

As designs progress and new technologies emerge, the authors present a value proposition for robust, reliable, cost-effective sensors.

As wind turbines have gotten larger over the last couple of decades, it is difficult to imagine the limitations in size or the future innovation that will be part of next-generation designs. Over time the industry has continued to develop larger utility-scale wind systems to leverage the economies of scale and capitalize on wind resources […]
Jose R. Zayas, Jon White

Foundation ‘gaps’ can prove costly

Leave nothing to chance by utilizing standardized processes that can help reduce or eliminate the gaps in your supply chain.

Wind power companies routinely face performance issues throughout their supply chains. These functional “gaps” often become problems that can prove very costly. Some gaps are more obvious than others. For example, detentions are among the biggest challenges… detentions of trucks because equipment isn’t ready to be picked up, of ships when it’s not delivered to […]
Hüseyin Kizilagac

February 2010

Dealing with a wind tower’s high load

Both wind and weight create tremendous forces on tower foundations, making anchoring techniques particularly critical. Here are points to keep in mind.

Wind towers are not particularly heavy, but are subject to high lateral loads at a distance high above their base, resulting in a large overturning moment. This loading condition results in a downward load on the downwind edge of the foundation, and an upward load on the windward edge. Seismic loading, where applicable, further increases […]
James D. Hussin

Test rig built to help validate bearing designs

As the market in wind turbines grows so does the demand for large, low-maintenance bearings. SKF has built a unique test rig for large bearings used in wind turbines.

Alternative energy generation is becoming an important part of the power generation mix, and it is likely that the size of individual generating units will grow. With 3 MW turbines standing at a height of 295 feet, large bearing systems are required at the heart of the generation machine. This is why SKF has built […]
Armin Schlereth

Robust supply chain crucial for blades

Sandia National Laboratories initiates a program to address the challenges of manufacturing dependable, cost-effective blades for wind turbines.

A robust, reliable, and high-quality supply chain of wind turbine blades is crucial for the sustainability of the wind industry to ensure growth and projected demands. With approximately 8,300 MW installed in 2008, and 5,800 MW installed through the third quarter of 2009, the demand for wind energy in the United States has experienced exponential […]
Jose R. Zayas

Avoiding wind farm construction risks

Engineering solutions can mitigate increasingly complex infrastructure problems, allowing you to eliminate risk from your wind project before transportation begins.

For those responsible for the construction of wind farms, risks literally could be just around the corner. If your project logistics resources do not have extensive civil engineering experience, there could be serious consequences—from missed deadlines to cost over-runs. You want a resource that anticipates every curve in the road. The logistics provider’s civil engineering […]
Hendrik Wagner, Hüseyin Kizilagac

January 2010

Getting turbine components where they need to be

How do you keep wind power logistics costs from blowing you away? Overcoming the hurdles of moving wind turbines from factory to project site will help.

Although wind power is the fastest-growing energy source, in many instances the skills required to move components to the project site have not kept pace. Wind power components are not your typical shipments, after all. If you are responsible for the construction of a wind farm, you want delivery of all components to be made […]
Hüseyin Kizilagac

Increasing reliability with condition monitoring

The best way to avoid turbine downtime is to follow quality maintenance procedures throughout its performance life. SKF shares the following pointers.

With the growth of wind farms, users are turning to condition monitoring and automatic lubrication systems for increased reliability. The following questions, and answers, may provide helpful insights: What are some of the fundamental challenges associated with wind turbine maintenance? Given the operating conditions a wind turbine experiences throughout a 20-year service life, maintenance problems […]
Kevin S. George

DOE 1.5 turbine lets NWTC conduct research

NREL’s National Wind Technology Center is working with industry partners to create the next generation of wind energy systems.

The two largest wind turbines ever erected at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) towered into the sky this fall. A 1.5-MW turbine manufactured by General Electric was dedicated for research in November, and a 2.3-MW turbine manufactured by Siemens Power Generation was dedicated for research in October. The U.S. […]
Kathleen O’Dell