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December 2016

Cranes and Wind Power: A Critical Pairing

From the day a turbine is erected, to the time it is ready to be taken down, cranes are necessary tools for building and maintaining wind farms.

Wind energy continues to be a robust industry with wind-farm construction predicted well into 2020. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Vision Report states the U.S. may be able to meet 10 percent of its electricity needs through wind power by 2020 and predicts meeting 20 percent by 2030 and 35 percent by 2050. Since […]
Kate Nation

Extreme Blade Transport

As wind-turbine blades get larger, the challenges of getting them to their final destination increase.

The growth of the wind industry in the last decade has brought with it a push for higher efficiency wind turbines and the ability to bring wind power to geographical areas once thought unsuitable for wind-farm installations. With the challenges and costs associated with transmission of wind power over long distances, the industry has shifted […]
Mihir Patel

Offshore Wind Challenges

Digitalization becomes crucial to supply-chain logistics for North American offshore industry.

Deepwater Wind recently completed construction on its first offshore wind farm in the United States off the coast of Rhode Island. By the end of 2016, an expected 17,000 residents living on Block Island will be the first in the nation to receive power from offshore wind. Once power from Block Island Wind Farm is […]
Karen Cassidy

October 2016

Advance Warning Advantage

Condition monitoring can maximize maintenance resources.

Before the next maintenance inspection for a wind turbine, much can happen. At every turn, critical components can be moving toward failure. Wind turbines are complex systems integrating thousands of components and will be buffeted by many of the same operational and maintenance issues associated with any machinery. And fixes to the systems can be […]
Greg Ziegler

Don’t Blame the Oil

Transient events — not gearbox oil — are the leading cause of wind-turbine gearbox failure.

In the wind industry, complex organo-metallic gear-oil chemistry and its resulting higher water content have sometimes been blamed for gearbox damage or failure. But water in oil is not the cause of gearbox failure. Rather, the characteristics of wind-turbine operations and the resulting transient loads are the root cause of nearly all failures. Transient loads […]
Paul Baker

A Bolt of Knowledge

Weather-forecasting advances shed new light on lightning damage to wind turbines.

A carbon-fiber blade from a wind turbine is transformed into shards of debris as it is struck by 30,000-degree lightning. This disastrous — and costly — scenario is not an uncommon sight for wind-farm operators. But not all lightning damage is so obvious. After a storm, those tasked with managing and maintaining wind turbines have […]
Shylesh Muralidharan

Protecting the Blades

Leading-edge erosion can dig into a turbine’s performance, but solutions exist to keep minor worries from becoming major problems.

Every year, wind-turbine blades face numerous environmental and weather challenges — including rain, hail, blowing sand, and salt spray — that can cause significant leading-edge erosion. Although small in size, these elements can lead to pitting, gouging, and delamination of the blade, severely affecting the entire wind turbine. In addition to drastically compromising the integrity […]
Santhosh Chandrabalan

September 2016

Looking North for Solutions

Canadian wind energy is integral to North American transition to a clean-energy economy.

For years, Canada’s wind-energy industry has had the potential to expand its market through exports to the United States, but it is only now — bolstered by a perfect storm of supply-and-demand drivers — that the opportunity is finally becoming concrete. On the U.S. side of the border, state governments and electricity distributors are grappling […]
Jean François Nolet

Syncing Up the Data

Project aims to standardize wind-turbine information in Canada.

At the end of 2015, Canada had commissioned more than 11,000 MW of wind-power capacity, and even more wind farms will be coming online in the coming years. Although the wind industry supplies approximately 5 percent of Canada’s electricity needs, to date it has not benefited from a broad and consistent understanding with respect to […]
Thomas Levy, Marianne Rodgers, Alexander Medd

BOEM’s Renewable Energy Program

A compelling future awaits offshore wind in the United States.

Renewable energy is of critical importance to the nation’s security, economy, and environment. Commercial wind energy is no longer simply an aspirational vision for a sustainable energy future. It is a reality onshore and is becoming a reality offshore. The Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island waters will be the United States’ first offshore […]
Jim Bennett

August 2016

Optimizing Lubrication

A one-size-fits-all approach: A single special grease for all rolling bearings can help achieve maximum yield.

Since each rolling bearing in a wind turbine operates under different conditions, it often is assumed using a variety of lubricants is essential for serving all of them. For operators, this means not only added logistical efforts and expensive warehousing but also the increased risk of product mix-ups. Some newly developed greases can be used […]
Wind Systems staff

Cutting the Concrete

New foundation technology will lower use of concrete in wind-turbine towers by 75 percent.

An Oregon startup is developing a new foundation system for wind-turbine towers that cuts the amount of concrete used by 75 percent – reducing carbon-dioxide emissions, shortening wind-farm construction times, and lowering the overall cost of wind energy. RUTE Foundation Systems and a research team at Portland State University received early-stage investment support from Oregon […]
Wind Systems staff

MARKET OUTLOOK: A Win for Wind Power

Wind industry stays afloat amidst economic and political uncertainty.

The winds of fortune are shifting rapidly for the energy sector. The rise of hydraulic fracturing and the ongoing OPEC-driven supply glut have pushed fossil fuel prices well below historic norms. While there is evidence that supply is once again starting to constrict, the continued abundance of dirty but cheap fuels, particularly natural gas, has […]
Angelos Angelou

MARKET OUTLOOK: Breathing New Life into Wind

PTC extension gives wind-industry projects a chance to really take off.

The five-year extension of the Production Tax Credit has breathed new life into the wind industry, and as a result, new wind-plant additions are expected to peak at 9 GW in 2018. The Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit were extended for five years with a gradual ramp-down of benefits for each year. “The […]
Lisa Cohn

MARKET OUTLOOK: Iowa: A Leader in Renewable Energy

When you imagine a future for wind energy nationwide, you don’t have to look farther than the state of Iowa as a shining example of what could be. Iowa is already the national leader in wind-power generation, and we have a goal — and a plan to achieve it — to be the first state […]
Terry Branstad

MARKET OUTLOOK: A Strong Wind Blows Deep in the Heart of Texas

No one said Texas doesn’t try to do everything big. So obviously, the Lone Star state’s “bigness” is a point of pride in everything it does. When it comes to the growing world of wind power, Texas is no exception: It leads the nation in wind-energy production. If Texas were a country, it would boast […]
Kenneth Carter

MARKET OUTLOOK: Wind Future Grows Stronger

American wind power poised to quadruple by 2030.

American wind power is on track to supply 20 percent of the country’s electricity by 2030, a goal set in the Department of Energy’s Wind Vision report released early last year. Following a near-record year of wind installments in 2015, activity in the U.S. continued at pace in the first quarter. In addition to 520 […]
John Hensley

July 2016

Trained Personnel Are Key to Safe Wind Farm Operations

Wind farm owners are doing their best to control spending, and, unfortunately, safety issues can be unintentionally overlooked, exposing contract workers and the wind farm itself to potential danger. One such example is the practice of allowing the contractor to operate the turbine for “lock-out/tag-out” without spending the necessary time to train and document the […]
Jack Wallace

Simulation: A Shift and Advancement in Wind Energy Training Methods

Historically, the wind energy industry has been unreceptive to implementing simulation training as a viable alternative for standard training methods. Trade leaders have acknowledged that this primarily stems from a longstanding practice of using traditional, yet effective, on-the-job training (OJT) methods. The industry-wide lack of understanding on simulation benefits is another reason for their delayed […]
Tiffany Sanders

June 2016

The Growth of Drones in the Wind Energy Industry

Smaller computers and sensors, better battery technology, and vastly improved algorithms for managing flight and safety have transformed drones from a niche hobby into a global craze over the last three to five years. Drones that once required a professional pilot to operate effectively are now essential tools for businesses spanning every industry from delivery […]
Tom Brady

A Stronger, Cleaner Steel for Applications in Wind Turbines

As demand for renewable energy grows and wind turbines become an ever-increasingly common sight, the nature of their application is forcing engineers to look for steels with exceptional properties to meet the extreme demands placed on components in wind turbines.

High-performance steel is used for fasteners to hold wind turbines to the ground, to assemble the modules of the tower, and to attach the blades. Steel bar is used to make the anchor chains in offshore applications, while steel tube and bar is used for cylinders, pistons, and pumps that control slewing and pitch. Tube, […]
Patrik Olund

May 2016

Data-Driven Main Bearing Maintenance Strategies To Reduce Unplanned Maintenance Costs

Main bearing failures can wreak havoc on a wind farm’s annual operating budget. Operators are experiencing high numbers of main bearing failures resulting in unplanned operating costs. Reference data from seven sites over four years shows that annual failure rates of 3-6 percent are not unusual. As bearings age and damage accumulates, that rate of […]
Jason Shapiro, Becki Meadows

Dropped Object Prevention: Tools with Engineered Attachment Points Can Increase Safety and Productivity

The wind power industry, along with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), has recognized dropped objects as a significant safety and productivity concern. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), dropped objects continue to lead the near misses reported by many wind energy companies, so much so that the association’s first safety awareness […]
John Tremblay

Generation Wind Comes to New Orleans

Last spring, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) set an ambitious goal that, if achieved, would usher in a new era in American energy. The DOE’s target: to generate 20 percent of the country’s electricity with wind energy by 2030. Today, the U.S. is on track to meet or exceed that target. In 2015, […]
Tim Morris

April 2016

Profile: Kalamazoo Valley Community College

Founded in Kalamazoo, Michigan, more than 40 years ago, Kalamazoo Valley Community College has made a name for itself in the wind energy industry with its Wind Turbine Technician Academy and the skilled workforce it produces.

Established in 1966, Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC) is a comprehensive, fully accredited public two-year college with approximately 13,000 students currently enrolled. It offers certificate programs in more than 20 areas of study and associate degrees in 25 others. In addition to associate degrees and certificate programs in business, health care, human and public service, […]
Anna Claire Howard

How the U.S. Wind Industry Can Benefit from the Advancement of Educational and Training Opportunities

There is a broad range of professions that make up the workforce needed to drive the wind energy industry forward, including jobs in the manufacturing of wind turbines, engineering, and a range of support roles relating to daily operations, including marketing and community liaison work. A wide variety of training is required for all of […]
Gordon Moran

Wind School Graduates Have a Competitive Edge in the Applicant Pool

As a wind energy instructor at Ecotech Institute, I’m envious of my students. They are at an exciting place in their careers, and the wind energy industry is exploding with opportunity worldwide right before their eyes. The technology uptower is changing so rapidly that employers are coming straight to schools like Ecotech Institute in Aurora, […]
Walter Christmas

Retooling America’€™s Workforce for the Wind Energy Industry

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the wind turbine technician profession — and opportunities for employment therein — is expected to increase by 108 percent over the next 10 years. This projection is much higher than the other occupations classified under the category of installation, maintenance, and repair, which is expected to […]
Shawn Lamb

The Importance of Encouraging Women to Pursue Careers in Wind Energy at an Early Age

The United States Department of Energy’s Wind Vision Report suggests that we as a nation can achieve 20-percent wind-generated energy by 2030 and 35 percent by 2050. This estimated economic growth has the potential to create 600,000 additional jobs by 2050, which will require a trained and qualified workforce. Children who are currently in elementary […]
Kristen Graf

March 2016

Siemens 7-MW Offshore Wind Turbine Reaches Final Stage in Development Process

The development of Siemens’ 7-MW offshore flagship wind turbine has successfully passed final type certification. Field testing of the SWT-7.0-154 was recently extended with a second prototype. Grid performance, quality, and safety are currently being tested on both machines. Obtaining type certification marked the final milestone in the development process, allowing customers to make final […]
Wind Systems staff

February 2016

Supporting Problem Resolution in O&M with Temporary Instrumentation

The purpose of a measurement system is to provide the quantitative data necessary to make educated decisions. In the wind energy sector, temporary measurement methods are often utilized with wind turbines due to the large scale of components, remote location, and dozens of turbines making up a single wind power plant. The measurements, analysis, and […]
Becki Meadows, Dr. Zhiwei Zhang, Jesse Graeter

Key Factors in Successful Wind Farm Operations

The organization of how things get done between the OEM, subcontractor, and owner can be quite different from wind farm to wind farm, but no matter what type of organization is in place or how old the site is, the main goal of wind farm operations is to have all of the turbines running anytime […]
Jack Wallace

Laufer Wind’s Radar-Activated Obstruction Lighting System Meets FAA Performance

Following the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) testing and introduction of new performance guidelines, Laufer Wind is now making its patented Aircraft Detection System (ADS) available in the United States. The ADS is a radar-activated obstruction lighting system designed to turn blinking lights atop wind turbines and tall towers on or off based on the presence […]
Wind Systems staff

Wind Energy Impacted by New Federal Aviation Administration Regulations

As wind energy evolved in the United States and turbines appeared in trafficked airspace, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) worked to adapt existing regulations governing aviation obstruction lighting and marking to a new dynamic in vertical structures — rotating blades. A new FAA Advisory Circular (70/7460-1L) published in December 2015 illustrates an intensified effort to […]
Jason Fohr

January 2016

Bolting Technology for the New Year

The tides are turning from the misinformed belief that hydraulic power pack systems are still the most relevant and accurate ways to torque. As we enter the new year, we need to focus on the ever-expanding bolting solutions that are available.

While it may seem like a hindrance to incorporate new technology, electronic torquing is easier to use and boasts undeniably better results. If you do not torque correctly, accurately, or with repeatability, you cannot do anything else. From the basement to the blade bolts and everything in between, you have to be certain that you […]
Hank Surface

Vaisala Validates Accuracy of Wind Assessment Methodology

Vaisala, a global leader in environmental and industrial measurement, recently performed an extensive validation confirming the accuracy of its state-of-the-art energy assessment methodology.

The results of this assessment validation process have revealed that the wind projects in the validation study performed within 0.1 percent of Vaisala’s pre-construction estimates during the years analyzed on average. This statistic is based on a comprehensive analysis of 30 operational wind farms, totaling 127 wind farm years. Of the years encompassed by the […]
Wind Systems staff