fredag 22. november 2013

Making offshore wind more affordable

Ole-Erik Endrerud, PhD Student, NORCOWE, Department of Mechanical and Structural Engineering and Material Science, University of Stavanger

 Offshore wind has been a popular source of renewable energy for some time now, but still, it’s too expensive to spur a large-scale industrial development. My project, which is a part of the Norwegian Centre for Offshore Wind Energy (NORCOWE), is trying to do something about the cost-problem.
Figure 1:Screenshot of the simulation model in action. This is from running a case with the offshore wind park Sheringham Shoal

To make offshore wind more affordable we are exploring how maintenance costs (which is 30 % of the total cost of a wind turbine park) can be reduced and at the same time increase electricity production. Using computerized simulation models (see Figure 1) we are trying to explain the relationship and interdependency between the maintenance organization (technicians, vessels, onshore bases, etc.) and the wind park, to understand how the former affects the latter and vice versa.

In addition, the typical maintenance strategy is corrective maintenance; if we get a flat tire we change it. This can result in a long period of downtime before it is repaired, e.g., because we need to wait for a new tire, and you might get late to work. The same problem exist for offshore wind parks, and all other production or manufacturing system, and can be a very expensive endeavor for a park operator. To reduce the impact of failure and repair we are looking at methods and technologies to predict when a failure will occur, and we do this by analyzing trends in condition data collected from the wind turbines, e.g., vibration and temperature measurements. The consequence of predicting failure times accurately is better planning of repair jobs, and we can change out a part just before it fail; but without the waiting time for parts or suitable weather.

What I want you to remember is that maintenance is more than repairing something that is broken; it is more than just a necessary evil. It is a major cost and risk factor for any company producing or manufacturing something, and therefore it’s time to take it to the next level and give maintenance the attention and position it deserves. An offshore wind turbine can be as intelligently designed as a space rocket, but if it fail it’s nothing more than a giant scarecrow in the middle of the sea.

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