Home Archives

Archives

December 2011

Insights on how to safeguard personnel during the long winter months

In this conclusion of a two-part series, the author continues his discussion of preseason winter preparations, providing insights on how to safeguard personnel during the long winter months.

In the October installment of this column we discussed various ways to prepare the wind turbine for winter operations. We continue our conversation by addressing the safety risks related to cold weather and how advance planning, and training, can avoid cold weather related injuries to the service team. Most technicians know how standing for long […]
Merritt Brown

Understanding the importance of field tiles and identifying ways to mitigate issues

Understanding the importance of field tiles and identifying ways to mitigate issues will help to improve landowner relations and lower overall construction costs.

Nothing is simple when dealing with tiling issues on wind facilities in certain portions of farm country. They are almost never surface located as part of a typical “one call” or underground utility location service. Most, if not all, of the tiles are poorly mapped and cannot be identified until they are encountered in the […]
Ron Krizan, P.E.

Conversion factors are needed in order to navigate the relative interpretation of time-averaged extreme wind conditions

In order to properly navigate the relative interpretation of time-averaged extreme wind conditions in various standards and data sources, conversion factors are needed.

The U.S. coastal environment offers challenges to widespread offshore wind development compared to projects installed in Europe. The prevalence of hurricanes along the Eastern seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico will require additional considerations as the U.S. defines its design standards. These issues are being addressed by several groups, such as a recent National Academies […]
Susan W. Stewart, Ph.D.

Logistics planning requires factoring in the interaction between weather and the terrain

Logistics planning requires factoring in the interaction between weather and the terrain to be transversed — taking a 3D rather than a 2D approach.

As the seventh consecutive day of rain was drenching me in the middle of a project, causing delays and running up costs, I thought of a line by Longfellow—“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.” No matter how well you plan, Mother Nature can and will push back. […]
Michael Graska

October 2011

Cold weather can affect the reliability of a wind project, as well as the productivity of its service team

Cold weather can impact the reliability of a wind project, as well as the productivity of its service team. This first in a two-part series examines how preseason preparations benefit both.

Leaving behind the memorable heat wave of 2011, it won’t be long before our offices at 300 feet off the ground become standing popsicles. As warm summer months give way to freezing temperatures, snowstorms, and ice storms, the harsh winter working environment will subject technicians to a variety of conditions in which to perform their […]
Merritt Brown

Anyone approaching a turbine under icy conditions needs to know how to protect themselves from shedding ice.

Anyone approaching a wind turbine under conditions where icing may form needs to know how to identify and protect themselves from shedding ice.

Blade icing is a unique safety challenge on wind farms that occurs on both existing and new facilities still under construction. Understanding and preparing for the risks will not only get your employees home safely, but also put procedures in place that maximize productivity during an icing event. Icing typically occurs when the ambient temperature […]
Ron Krizan, P.E.

A new concept for designing blades is through adaptive blade technology

A new concept for designing blades is through adaptive blade technology, which may allow more energy to be captured and lower blade loads to be experienced.

What if a wind turbine could change its shape with varying wind conditions to optimally capture the most power from the wind at each wind speed? What would these shape changes be, and what would the impact be on the cost of energy? These questions were the premise of a study conducted at Penn State […]
Susan W. Stewart, Ph.D.

Successful logistics planning benefits from understanding border rules

Seasoned travelers understand that rules change once borders are crossed. Successful logistics planning benefits from that realization, as well.

Companies often forget seemingly simple things while handling the logistics of wind components within North America. What is assumed within U.S. borders doesn’t necessarily hold true for Canada or Mexico. These assumptions can have painful consequences, especially with time-sensitive cargo. I have found that often companies have less difficulty importing from another continent than across […]
admin

September 2011

Lack of proper planning during crane walks results in schedule issues and unexpected costs

Lack of proper planning or poor scope definition during crane walks predictably results in schedule issues and unexpected costs. Here’€™s how to prepare your path.

Tracked cranes perform nearly all of the new wind farm construction in North America. One challenge is moving the nearly 1,000,000-lb machines between turbines without performing either a full or partial breakdown, which can take days to complete. Lack of proper planning or poor scope definition during the crane walks predictably results in schedule issues […]
Ron Krizan, P.E.

A predictive program will include an assessment of the failure mode for each event

Where an OEM scheduled maintenance plan takes only component life into account, a predictive program will include an assessment of the failure mode for each event.

Surprisingly, maintenance practices in the wind industry are still guided mostly by time-based activities. Meant to be a proactive approach to servicing multimillion-dollar equipment, the scheduled maintenance activities are performed at routine intervals, combining the most conservative engineering estimates with a bit of luck that we catch failure events before they occur. Throw in 50 […]
Merritt Brown

Turbine technology is rapidly evolving to meet the stringent demands of grid stability, reliability

Turbine technology is rapidly evolving to meet the stringent demands of grid stability, reliability, and economic extraction of wind energy from lower average wind speed sites.

The 2010 annual Wind Technologies Market Report by Ryan Wiser and Mark Bolinger, both of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, was released in June 2011. It can be downloaded at www1.eere.energy.gov/windandhydro/pdfs/51783.pdf. This report has noted a decline in capacity factors for U.S. projects over the last few years (fig. 34). This is not because there has […]
Susan W. Stewart, Ph.D.

Barge is a third viable form of transport for wind components

Barge is a third viable form of transport for wind components, especially in strategically located wind farms near water access or for the import or export of components.

Traditionally, the most common method of transporting large wind components has been via specialized truck transportation carriers. In recent years rail transport has been effectively utilized by large volume manufacturers such as GE, Vestas, and Siemens. In special cases, however, there is a third option for moving components that takes advantage of the extensive inland […]
Anne Puhalovich

August 2011

Clarifying scope definition prior to beginning a project

Clarifying scope definition prior to beginning a project can save time and alleviate tensions between wind farm owners and contractors.

Scope definition is likely the single greatest source of frustration on all wind projects. Simply put, the scope is the link that binds owners and contractors to the same common goal. However, those scopes usually fail to recognize that both parties have vastly differing motives to achieve that goal. Getting the scope definition “just right” […]
Ron Krizan, P.E.

Annual analyses of faults that cause downtime can shed light on nuisance-type issues

Annual analyses of frequent turbine faults that cause downtime can shed light on what seemingly nuisance-type issues are really eating your lunch!

In the world of maintenance there is generally an accepted rule in system troubleshooting that states the best methodology should attempt to eliminate at least half of the probable causes of component failure at each step of the process. This technique is termed “half-splitting,” whereby instead of sequentially testing each and every component of a […]
Merritt Brown

The more engaged today’s youth are in the stewardship of our natural resources, the brighter their future will be

The more engaged today’s youth are in the stewardship of our natural resources, the brighter their future will be. Programs like Wind for Schools will help.

As we are embarking on a new adventure at Penn State directing the Pennsylvania Wind for Schools program, we are reminded of how fascinating wind turbines are for our youth. Encouraging children toward careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields is increasingly important in today’s globally competitive and technology oriented environment. Wind energy […]
Susan W. Stewart, Ph.D.

By developing logistics strategies that benefit the entire system, companies can improve performance

By viewing the entire supply chain holistically and developing logistics strategies that benefit the entire system, companies can improve performance and reduce cost.

Logistics roles and responsibilities tend to be compartmentalized within companies. One group may handle project deliveries, another group manages inbound plant logistics, and a third group arranges oversea transportation. Outside the organization the responsibilities are segmented even more sharply, sometimes resulting in confusion and lost opportunity. The goals and the objectives of one group may […]
Anne Puhalovich

July 2011

Once your project has been cleared to proceed, which construction strategy will you choose?

Once your project has been cleared to proceed, which construction strategy will you choose? This installment provides a comparison of two methods, including pros and cons.

Once your wind farm project becomes approved, you will eventually need to decide what construction strategy you will use. Many developers have traditionally gone with the Engineer, Procure, and Construct (EPC) or “turnkey” approach. However, the General Contracting (GC) method is another basic approach that is easily adaptable to the wind industry and has seen […]
Ron Krizan, P.E.

Focusing on the sightline from maintenance reliability to business success

To be proficient in managing your maintenance plan, it should be both a common practice and a team effort to focus on the sightline from maintenance reliability to business success.

When we speak of wind turbine maintenance we often refer to the scheduled, semi-annual, or annual service that involves such tasks as replacing filters, checking bolt torques, and other time-based activities found on the manufacturer’s checklist. But let’s say your technician returns from one of these scheduled maintenance activities with a new work request after […]
Merritt Brown

The challenges involved in building integrated wind energy include wind flow, structure siting, unit certification, and aesthetics

The challenges involved in building-integrated wind energy include wind flow, structure siting, unit certification, and even aesthetic concerns. Read on to learn more.

Building-integrated wind turbines (BIWT) are becoming more prevalent in the landscape across the United States, as well as in Europe. There are many challenges with integrating wind turbines into existing buildings that are not entirely obvious, even upon thorough investigation of a proposed installation. One of the most serious challenges is probably that the building […]
Susan W. Stewart, Ph.D.

Mitigating or avoiding demurrage and detention fees

Demurrage and detention fees are penalty charges that owners apply when transportation equipment sits idle. Here’€™s how they can be mitigated, or avoided altogether.

Logistics costs account for 10-15 percent of the total turbine cost. Understanding and controlling these costs is an important part of managing the overall budget. An area of costs not typically budgeted, but which may contribute significantly to the overall logistics costs, are demurrage and detention fees. Under certain circumstances these charges may increase the […]
Anne Puhalovich

June 2011

There is a profound distinction between education and training

Those struggling with achieving consistent quality outcomes will find that there is a profound distinction between education and training. Read on to learn the difference.

I expect we have all heard the message: While placed on hold, a voice says “to ensure quality this call may be recorded.” If ensuring quality meant that you only had to make a recording of a particular conversation, action, or task, then quality and quality results should no longer be an issue today. These […]
Merritt Brown

An interdisciplinary workforce of engineers is essential for advancements in wind turbine technology

An interdisciplinary workforce of engineers is essential for advancements in wind turbine technology, which is being addressed by universities such as Penn State.

Jobs in wind energy have been and are currently out there. The wind industry, though, is challenged with filling open positions with qualified candidates that received at least some education in wind energy. There are only a handful of academic institutions in the U.S. that have wind energy in some form integrated into their undergraduate […]
Sven Schmitz, Ph.D.

It is critical to balance site section criteria against the needs of the project site

As more companies use inventory pre-positioning techniques to reduce component delivery cost and limit risk, it is critical to balance site section criteria against the needs of the project site.

Inbound supply chains are becoming increasingly complex. While many OEM turbine manufacturers have or are planning North American assembly plants, most new plants are being designed to use rail for outbound deliveries. For some components, such as towers, the lowest total landed cost of the component may mean sourcing products from overseas and shipping in […]
Anne Puhalovich

May 2011

The rise in mobile technology is the catalyst that the wind industry needs

The rise in mobile and wireless technology capability is the catalyst that the wind industry needs in order to keep pace with owner demands for real-time turbine status.

Those familiar with wind turbine service documents—either having had to complete them as a technician uptower, or who are the recipients in the shop office—know all too well the delicate nature of these paper forms. Covered in grease, and sometimes torn or illegible, service reports continue to be the preferred method of communicating wind turbine […]
Merritt Brown

The past, present, and future of research into modeling a turbine’s wake

In this installment the author discusses the past, present, and future of research into modeling the wake behind wind turbines.

The wind industry faces a number of challenges in developing wind farms, both onshore and offshore. Two that concern the aerodynamics of wind turbines are wind siting accuracy over complex terrain onshore and air/wave interaction offshore, and power forecasting for wind turbines to streamline transmission into electrical grid with minimal losses. These difficulties are even […]
Sven Schmitz, Ph.D.

Overland transport is a crucial link in the supply chain

Overland transport is a crucial link in the supply chain, so it’€™s important to understand how new trucking regulations will affect the wind market.

The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) has implemented a new safety measurement program, referred to as CSA2010, intended to improve road safety and reduce highway accidents. The new measurement system is very complex and will affect the entire trucking industry, and it could impact industries that require heavy haul transport. The potential effects on […]
Anne Puhalovich

April 2011

Ensuring worker safety is a critical aspect of a construction project’s success

Ensuring worker safety is a critical aspect of a construction project’s success. This first in a two-part series outlines the importance of emergency preparedness.

There is nothing more important to your business than the people who work for you. All aspects of your operation depend on their efforts and ability to effectively support your presence in the wind industry. Whether you are an owner, developer, or fellow contractor in the wind power sector, emergency preparedness and ensuring worker safety […]
Trent Schon

Cleaning the turbine properly is just as important as more-technical O&M procedures

It could be argued that cleaning the turbine properly is just as important as more-technical O&M procedures. Here are the points you should keep in mind.

A wind technician education consists of learning how to maintain and service wind turbines that are designed to generate electricity. Courses begin with the introduction of wind turbines and are followed by key topics on mechanical systems, electrical systems, power electronics, semiconductor devices and circuits, hydraulics, cranes and rigging, and various computer applications. With all […]
Merritt Brown

The U.S. DOE has announced funding opportunities for a “€œNational Offshore Wind Strategy”

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced funding opportunities for a “€œNational Offshore Wind Strategy.”€ Here’€™s what you should know about getting onboard.

The potential benefits of an offshore wind deployment in the United States are manifold. It is well known that offshore winds are stronger and more consistent than onshore winds, leading to increased capacity factors compared to onshore wind power production. Furthermore, the highly populated coastal areas in the United States consume about 78 percent of […]
Sven Schmitz, Ph.D.

Component manufacturers will benefit by understanding how to use rail as an alternative transport mode

It is no secret that the new class of wind turbine designs is challenging the limits of transportation logistics. Not only are the nacelles becoming heavier, but blades and tower sections are becoming larger and longer. Many highway jurisdictions are restricting the movements of large components and sometimes will deny permit applications if alternative forms […]
Anne Puhalovich

March 2011

Wind project owners, site managers, and technicians alike need to understand the value of troubleshooting skills

Wind project owners, site managers, and technicians alike need to understand the value of troubleshooting skills, passing them along to new entrants in this growing workforce.

Many wind technicians begin their career having already been taught skills in servicing rotating machinery and bring a modest background and understanding of mechanical and electrical principles. Further on-the-job training in such areas as safety, wind turbine operation, bolting, rigging, and electrical systems present a well-rounded service technician who can skillfully perform routine and major […]
Merritt Brown

There are many challenges to be overcome during wind farm electrical “balance of plant” work

There are many challenges to be overcome during wind farm electrical “balance of plant” work, which includes full wind park electrical integration. Here, the experts share helpful tips.

A privately held national infrastructure engineering and construction firm, Henkels & McCoy has been involved in the construction of wind farms for many years. Our expertise includes, but is not limited to, wind farm electrical “balance of plant” work, which includes full wind park electrical integration. The hard work starts from the nacelle and down-tower […]
Sammy Germany, Ph.D., M.B.A.

Obama signals support for the future of renewable energy

When President Obama visited Penn State to introduce a new energy conservation initiative, he signaled the administration’€™s support for the future of renewable energy in this country.

On February 3, United States President Barack Obama unveiled the “Better Building Initiative” to help the country “Win the Future” in a talk on the University Park campus at Penn State. The vision is to improve the energy efficiency of commercial building space by 20 percent over the next nine years. Cutting-edge energy research and […]
Sven Schmitz, Ph.D.

How do you minimize the risks and costs associated with market uncertainty?

How do you minimize the risks and costs associated with market uncertainty? Change past behavior and innovate!

According to President Obama, the first step in winning the future is innovation, but what does that mean for wind logistics? The latest wind energy headlines indicate a decrease in wind development in the U.S. and Europe as compared to 2009, and the high upfront financial investment, increasing competition, and the uncertain regulatory and demand […]
Anne Puhalovich

February 2011

Proper lubrication and contaminant control are critical in order to attain long gearbox service life

Proper lubrication and contaminant control are critical in order to attain long gearbox service life, both during and after the warranty period.

In conducting end of warranty inspections, we typically find a number of turbine gearboxes with internal gear damage that occurred over a relatively short period of time. While these issues have materialized largely unnoticed by the project owner up to the final turnover inspection, the affect of such irreversible conditions will gravely impact the performance […]
Merritt Brown

Cement grouting is an effective alternative to reconstruction of the foundation

A proven technique for stopping or reducing settlement, cement grouting is an effective, cost-efficient alternative to complete reconstruction of the foundation.

Wind towers founded on spread footings may settle as a result of loose bearing soils either not identified during the preconstruction geotechnical exploration or remaining after inadequate subgrade preparation. Loose granular soils may also be susceptible to liquefaction during a seismic event, which may result in excessive settlement or complete foundation failure. When wind towers […]
James D. Hussin

Turbine icing is an increasing challenge to the economics of wind energy

Turbine icing is an increasing challenge to the economics of wind energy in cold climates. Read on to learn how it happens, what it causes, and how it can be addressed.

The northeastern and mid-Atlantic U.S. is an attractive region for future wind park developments due to good wind resources, state incentives, and ease to grid connection in the vicinity of major populated areas. The associated colder climate conditions sound promising at first sight because of possibly strong winds and higher air density, e.g. air at […]
Sven Schmitz, Ph.D.

Why should a developer assess strategic logistics considerations before final OEM selection?

Why should a developer assess strategic logistics considerations before final OEM selection? Because you need to know what you’re paying for!

For most wind farm projects, site developers outsource the delivery of components to the OEM. The price structure and delivery terms for this service vary by project, but contractually it is the responsibility of the OEM to resolve the many complex considerations involving wind component transportation. So why is it critical for the developer to […]
Anne Puhalovich

January 2011

Chemical grouting is an effective alternative to complete reconstruction of the foundation system

A proven technique for stopping or reducing settlement, chemical grouting is an effective, cost-efficient alternative to complete reconstruction of the foundation system.

Wind towers founded on spread footings may settle as a result of loose bearing soils either not identified during the preconstruction geotechnical exploration or remaining after inadequate subgrade preparation. Loose granular soils may also be susceptible to liquefaction during a seismic event, which may result in excessive settlement or complete foundation failure. When wind towers […]
James D. Hussin

Protecting turbine cables is vital

Protecting turbine cables is vital, and at each maintenance interval sufficient time must be given to their care in order to avoid unnecessary €”and expensive downtime.

One of the most common findings from a wind turbine inspection is broken cable ties, which results in abrasion to cable insulation, and perhaps ultimately cable failure. These inexpensive nylon fasteners are used in nearly all wind turbines to secure power and control cables into proper position, and provide the necessary “wire management” of the […]
Merritt Brown

Penn State offers an emerging educational and research program in wind energy

Penn State offers an emerging educational and research program in wind energy, and it is aiming to become a major contributor to research excellence in the U.S. wind industry.

The University Park campus of The Pennsylvania State University is the home of emerging research and educational activities in the field of wind energy. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is fostering its position among the leading “wind states” in the Northeastern United States, and since 2004 has been aiming to meet 8 percent of the state’s […]
Sven Schmitz, Ph.D.

U.S. wind market undulations cause ripple effects in transportation

U.S. wind market undulations cause ripple effects in transportation, so understanding recent history can help guide logistics planning and procurement going forward.

As consultants in the area of wind component logistics, we are often asked to provide a market overview for clients. The challenge, of course, is that the market is constantly changing. In order to optimize component logistics in today’s environment it’s useful to understand the recent history of wind component logistics in North America and […]
Graham Brisben
X