Wind Turbine Design Life

Wind turbines typically have a nominal design life of 20 or 25 years. Standard’ manufacturer warranties commonly covering the initial seven years. Like other similar scale industrial machinery, as the turbine approaches the latter half of its nominal design life, the major electrical and mechanical components, that have been subject to wear, are likely to require replacement and/or benefit from a more intensive level of care Beyond the design life, prudence suggests that a more rigorous regime is beneficial to continued availability.

Design life of a turbineFor a number of reasons, lost production, due to unscheduled machinery failure, is always best avoided. In particular, the time and cost of getting repairs and replacements done, at a time of machine failure, is invariably higher stress, tends to be more costly and can suffer long delays as repair conditions are unsuitable.

Running under an operations management regime without the implementation of enhanced services, inspections and maintenance programs, results in an exponential increase in the financial and operational risks. For example, failures in major component subsystems (e.g. gearbox, generator, yaw motors etc) likely occur towards the end of the design life when the turbine is no longer under warranty. To add to the challenge, some of these major parts can be hard to obtain and logistically difficult to replace. Finally, the loss of production during the downtime periods is an additional and substantial burden that eclipse the cost of the repair.

Distgen set out to refurbish and operate wind turbines that are already passed their 20 years operation life. Refurbished turbines make better financial sense and have a much lower carbon footprint. We developed and implemented the High Availability for eXtended Operation life (HAXO) program in-house to ensure a reliable operation of our fleet for a further 20 years and hopefully beyond.

The HAXO program focuses on various aspects of the operation, namely: 

  • Extensive preemptive refurbishment or replacement of all major components 
  • Proactive upgrades and ongoing enhancements to maximise the potential productivity 
  • Modern monitoring and control systems using cloud computing
  • Intensive scheduled servicing and maintenance programs 
  • Provision of contingency funds and strategic spares management 

We have been successfully using HAXO in house for the past 10 years. We are now offering our expertise to other wind operators who wish to maximise their asset’s performance and minimise cost. 

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