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December 2013

A New Foundation?

Five ways to address the challenges facing future wind power construction and sustainability in the U.S. market.

Being part of the United States wind industry is challenging right now. For contractors to manufacturers, to developers, and every sector of the supply chain in-between, it’s challenging. The boom-and-bust cycles created by the lack of consistency in the United States market for renewable energy and the uncertainty surrounding the passage of the Production Tax […]
Julian Bell

Building Responsibly

Developer First Wind approaches clean energy generation by focusing on environmental and ecological impacts in the design and construction of wind farms.

Wind energy is both clean and renewable and it helps offset two of the most damaging impacts of conventional electricity generation—air pollution and natural resource depletion. For example, a traditional fossil-fuel plant of the same scale as the recently completed Sheffield Wind project in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom would burn 61,000 tons of coal or about […]
Josh Bagnato

High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Transmission Super Highway Benefits to the Plains and Southeast

Assessing two proposed HVDC transmission projects seeking to solve high energy demands in the South.

The South is the new frontier for the wind industry. As the rest of the country struggles with a lack of electricity demand growth, the South is expected to continue its robust growth demand in addition to retiring up to 30 gigawatts of coal-fired power plant capacity (Brattle Group 2012). In addition to developing in-region […]
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October 2013

Unforeseen subsurface conditions: Mitigating the risks of what can’t be seen

Construction contracts require owners and contractors to accept risk as part of the project construction. Two closely related risks on wind energy projects are unforeseen subsurface conditions and pre-existing hazardous materials. Properly evaluating and handling these risks is a necessary part of being a successful wind energy contractor. Wind energy balance of plant (BOP) contracts […]
Julian Bell

Listen to the story that turbine data is trying to tell you

I don’t want to waste my time, labor, or money doing unnecessary things. This year I have spent much of my time here talking about data collection on wind turbines in a variety of forms. This is because I want to know when I should do something—when I should react. I am looking for a […]
Jack Wallace

Tower Ring method for cleaning wind towers significantly raises safety and environmental standards

Health and Safety experts will tell you: “The best way to reduce risk, is to eliminate the risk.” Pretty simple logic, right? Try applying that philosophy to cleaning 300-foot-tall wind towers! Wind power generation has been around for decades now. Local, state and federal initiatives are supporting (and in many cases, mandating) the movement toward […]
Wayne Harmond

September 2013

Complete preparation goes a long way in preventing costly foundation failures

Complete preparation, including accounting for all factors prior to the pour, goes a long way in preventing costly foundation failures.

A recent report by GCube, a prominent renewable energy industry insurance provider, listed the top five categories of wind project insurance claims in 2012: blades, gearboxes, generators, transformers and foundations. Of these, average foundation claims were far higher than other claim types. An average claim for blade damage or failure was $240,000; average gearbox claims […]
Julian Bell

Schedule contracted maintenance tasks well in advance of your completion deadline

As more and more wind power plants come off of warranty, scheduling for specialty sub-contractors becomes an issue. Your approach scheduling services in the wind industry has a large effect on the success of your maintenance efforts. In the wind industry maintenance sector, “when, how, and who” really affects the bottom line of your profitability. […]
Jack Wallace

A case study surrounding the impact of Vortex Generators on wind turbine performance

Wind farm owners are constantly seeking new technology to help optimize and increase Annual Energy Production (AEP) and while Vortex Generators (VGs) have existed for some time, the latest technology and installation procedures have made VGs a popular topic in wind energy. UpWind Solutions, in partnership with SMART BLADE®, studied the design and installation of […]
Jean-Paul Cane

August 2013

A digital camera can be a powerful tool in giving a total “€œsnapshot”€ of your maintenance practices

More than just for crew photos, a digital camera can be a powerful tool in giving a total “€œsnapshot”€ of your maintenance practices.

Technology has become a part of our everyday lives. Use of technology in maintaining wind turbines is a prime example.  One technological tool we use regularly now is a digital camera. You can find a digital camera in nearly everyone’s pocket today. They have been integrated into most cell phones and are permeating all aspects […]
Jack Wallace

Lowering the cost of wind energy through composite technology and quality-by-design

Energy has always been pivotal to the progress and sustainability of civilization. This has never been more true than today and we are facing a unique set of circumstances. The importance of energy security, its cost, and the global requirement for reducing carbon emissions are more pressing than ever.  While solar and wind are really […]
Theo Botha

In drawing up your component transportation playbook, consider choosing an experienced third-party logistics provider

At one point, all companies have internally analyzed the option to have their suppliers own the transportation of components or to manage it themselves. Decisions were made based on resident knowledge of the transportation industry and the final cost of the good sold. These factors are critical when negotiating the transportation scope, but are not […]
Harde Eddison

July 2013

There is no room for complacency or non-compliance among wind energy personnel

With at-height work risks extending beyond individual safety, there is no room for complacency or non-compliance among wind energy personnel.

When working hundreds of feet in the air, with ground level a dangerously long distance down, wearing equipment that either prevents or protects against a free fall seems like a “no-brainer.” However, even the most experienced workers can be complacent, ignoring the proper safety precautions and foregoing fall protection gear as they go about their […]
Oliver Hirschfelder

Ropes and cable-suspended baskets represent viable, efficient access method alternatives

As tower heights — €”and the expense of taller cranes — €”rise, ropes and cable-suspended baskets represent viable, efficient access method alternatives.

I was talking with a fellow passenger on a flight recently and brought up that I work in the wind industry. She asked me: “How do you get up there, to the top?” I told her that all the turbines have a ladder inside and that technicians ascend from within the tower in order to […]
Jack Wallace

Having a systematic ‘Who, What, When, Why, and How’€ data strategy beforehand is critical in assessing project successes and failures

As a wind project ends and groups gather to analyze the outcome of the endeavor, they soon realize they were not capturing all of the data required to fully understand the reasons why the project was a monumental success or an epic failure. Companies who proactively engage in capturing as much data as possible have […]
Harde Eddison

June 2013

Testing generator winding insulation €”is a wise addition to your maintenance schedule

Insulation testing of your generator windings is a data acquisition method that—if completed during regular maintenance cycles—can help you understand the health of your equipment. A good part of a wind turbine technician’s time is spent checking, lubricating, and inspecting mechanical components. The repetition of these actions helps them notice when something is not in […]
Jack Wallace

Industrial Ethernet is a key component as wind farm communication needs expand

As the use of wind farms continues to grow worldwide, technology is a key component to keeping wind farms up and running at top efficiency. An important part of the technologically-savvy wind farm is industrial-grade Ethernet, which has evolved to combine rugged networking with reliable performance, and advanced features. This article will examine what industrial […]
Diane Davis

Defining supply chain management can be confusing

Defining supply chain management can be confusing. Its true meaning is best comprehended by understanding the foundation and the individual functions.

What is this thing called supply chain management? Sometimes the term seems so vast and multifaceted that it is hard to get your head around the concept. Let me give you my interpretation of what supply chain management is. I do not take full credit for this definition since I have had many influences throughout […]
Michael Graska

May 2013

Maximizing long-term integrity of turbine foundation integrity requires attention to fundamental aspects of construction and design

There are four major areas of wind project construction: civil (roads, wind turbine foundations, etc.); electrical collection system; wind turbine erection; and high voltage electrical work (substation/switchyard/transmission line).  This column will examine some of the critical aspects of foundation design and construction. Quality foundations are one of the most important aspects of wind farm construction.  […]
Julian Bell

Avoiding contamination and performing grease sample analysis during low-speed bearing maintenance help mitigate chances of surprise events

On most wind turbines today, bearings outside of the main gearbox are lubricated with grease. Grease is typically pumped into a bearing with a grease gun, either manually or automatically. Other items such as open gear teeth are also protected with a layer of grease—applied by a brush, or automatic lubrication device. Applying this lubricant […]
Jack Wallace

Computerized maintenance management systems offer streamlined approach to maintenance and integration

Computerized maintenance management systems offer streamlined approach to maintenance and integration with ERPs for predicted growth of O&M segment.

It wasn’t so long ago that I witnessed paper service reports being stored at the base of a tower. For many organizations, things haven’t advanced far beyond that, with spreadsheets still being acceptable to some as a legitimate method of data storage. In their 2011 study on Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) usage, Reliabilityweb.com reported […]
Steven Quayle

Making accurate comparisons and a greater understanding of the budgeting process can aid in avoiding transportation “bill shock”

As the saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” This holds true when budgeting a transportation project. Items are often left out of the budgeting process that are not accounted for when the final tab is added up. These unexpected, unexplained charges cause arguments between clients and vendors, and can cause the relationship to […]
Michael Graska

April 2013

A wind project construction and design checklist for owners

A wind project construction and design checklist for owners to ensure overall safety and meet the project’s economic expectations.

Successful wind projects don’t just happen. They result from the efforts of a large number of talented people over several years. However, the overall success of a wind project can be threatened if successful project development is not followed by successful design and construction. A successful wind construction project can be described as follows: Everyone […]
Julian Bell

Meticulous attention to turbine blades are key elements in a successful maintenance plan

Meticulous attention to turbine blades — paired with a proactive, preventative approach — are key elements in a successful turbine blade maintenance plan.

The basic structure of a blade is made with adhesive, strings, and ropes. If you take a rope and give one end to your dog and you hold onto the other end, you could pull him around the shop. But if you took the same rope and tried to push him with it… Well, I […]
Jack Wallace

Corrosion protection for offshore turbines requires proper resources and painstaking attention to developing an action plan

Corrosion protection for offshore wind turbines, due to constant exposure to a highly corrosive environment, requires proper resources and painstaking attention to developing an action plan.

Multiple parties are involved in the delivery of successful corrosion protection of offshore wind turbines. The steel builder, paint applicator, and paint supplier are all involved in the process. They must work closely together to achieve the best results. Corrosion protection is always the last step of the production process. When a job is behind […]
Anders Voldsgaard Clausen

Success in supply chain management depends on how well you adhere to these seven fundamental laws

Avoid getting caught up in the minutiae. Success in supply chain management depends on how well you adhere to these seven fundamental laws.

Logistics and supply chain management often comes down to how well you execute the fundamentals. No magic here; just the ability to out-execute your completion. I have boiled down these fundamentals into seven laws. How well you adhere to these laws will go a long way in determining how successful your supply chain will be […]
Michael Graska

March 2013

Planning for safety and quality are key to maximizing budget, schedule, and wind power production

While often summarily discussed initially, planning for safety and quality are key to maximizing budget, schedule, and wind power production.

Everyone pays a lot of attention to the four major construction issues: safety, quality, schedule, and budget. Of these, safety and quality are typically the least discussed during the project award process. “Good” quality and safety on wind projects is closely related to “good” cost and schedule, and deserve far more attention. A safe job […]
Julian Bell

Consider the multiple benefits of condition monitoring equipment

Consider the multiple benefits of condition monitoring equipment before basing decisions on the judgment that such systems are just ‘€œtoo costly’€ —€” the savings will come.

Some of the biggest push back on condition monitoring equipment (CME) comes from the financial groups in wind turbine organizations. Mainly because the equipment and subsequent services related to collecting the data is seen as too costly. They can see the cost of the CME as it is evident with the initial cost of purchase […]
Jack Wallace

Technical inspections of wind turbine generators — a necessity, not an option

Three parameters fundamentally influence the annual energy production of a wind turbine: average annual wind conditions; technical characteristics (power performance); and turbine availability. While influencing wind speed currently lies beyond human abilities, the optimization of the technical performance of a wind farm can be a successful task. The technical availability of a wind turbine is […]
Martin Schmidt-Bremer Jr.

Learning to work efficiently with Contract Logistics Service Providers may become essential

As the industry contracts and companies look to external sources, learning to work efficiently with Contract Logistics Service Providers may become essential.

The past 12 months has brought great change to America’s wind power industry. If I had to summarize it with one word, it would be “contraction.” This affects every supplier within the wind supply chain. It may take years to get back to the a period of wind farm construction that matches its peak. So […]
Michael Graska

February 2013

PTC extension may lead to additional construction in winter months

Production Tax Credit extension may lead to additional construction in winter months, so don’t forget to be prepared to adjust for conditions.

The extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) in the first few days of 2013 was cause for post-Christmas celebration for companies in the wind industry. The interesting, and particularly useful, twist to the most recent extension of the PTC lies in its requirement that PTC eligible projects must start construction prior to January 1, […]
Julian Bell

Reviewing the wind turbine theory of operation for better understanding is necessary for proper maintenance decision making

Reviewing the wind turbine theory of operation for better understanding is necessary for proper maintenance decision making, and can lead to increased production.

My career in wind started in 1985 as a wind turbine technician. Back then, U.S. Wind Power was the largest wind turbine manufacture in the world and Fayette manufacturing was the second largest. These companies are no longer around, although some of their turbines are still producing power today. Although the players have changed, the […]
Jack Wallace

How to perform proper inspection of wind turbine components as end-of-warranty approaches

Over the 20 to 25 year design life of a wind turbine, usually only the first two are covered under warranty. As the end of the warranty period approaches, it’s common practice to give the turbine a thorough inspection, identify problems, and have the OEM repair them. The maintenance on most complex equipment can be […]
David Clark

Measuring and accounting for the gap between expectations and results

Measuring and accounting for the gap between expectations and results is key in efficiency, responsiveness, and overall supply chain success.

A few years ago while teaching a graduate class in supply chain management at the local university, an inquisitive student  asked me this, “Professor Graska, what is the one most important thing to understand about a supply chain?” I am not sure if he was trying to put me on the spot or was genuinely […]
Michael Graska

January 2013

Wind energy development in Southeastern states faces unique challenges

Wind energy development in Southeastern states faces unique challenges, requiring proper preparation and planning.

This year, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) held its annual WINDPOWER conference in Atlanta. One of the main emphases of the conference was the future of wind project development and construction in the southeastern United States. As contractors look to the future of the wind industry construction, they will be well served by preparing […]
Julian Bell

Proper maintenance and common sense are key to safeguarding against premature failure

Despite advances in detection of potentially catastrophic failures of wind turbine gearboxes, proper maintenance and common sense are key to safeguarding against premature failure.

Even though an operating turbine’s gearbox might sound normal from the ground, it could be in quite different shape once the inspection covers are pulled and an oil sample is taken. Finding damage on high-speed gearing can be an indication that a softer-material, slower-moving component is fragmenting and sending metal particulates into the oil system. […]
Jack Wallace

Observation of metocean conditions is integral in determining design of offshore floating wind turbines

As offshore wind energy projects move farther offshore into deeper waters, erecting wind turbines on floating platforms instead of the traditional fixed-bottom platforms become more economical. Floating platforms have been used with success in the offshore oil industry, but there are a number of engineering challenges associated with offshore floating wind turbines (OFWTs). One important […]
Matthew A. Lackner, Ph.D.

Resolve to identify key competencies and emphasize preparation for continued success the year ahead

Yes, it’s that time of year — time for making your 2013 New Year’s resolutions. While I am not a big resolution guy and recognize that most are broken by the end of the month, it does make sense to step back and see areas for improvement. This is for an organization as well as […]
Michael Graska
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