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Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Wind turbines are still crap

I was led to believe from previous information that biggest problems with offshore wind turbines was gearbox failure.

However It appears that I was wrong. Gearbox failure is not the most prevalent fault.

Failures of electrical and controls systems are the root cause of wind turbine repairs in 50% of cases, and operators should expect an electronic or electrical subassembly failure every 2 to 2.5 years, according to Wind Energy Update’s Offshore operations and Maintenance report 2011, released today.

So let me get this straight in my mind. We have a failure rate of the gearboxes after only seven years, and now it is iterated that we have electrical failures every 2 to 2.5 years.

According to the report’s authors, while the failure rate event of electrical system and control faults/failures may not have the highest associated downtime, a higher frequency of occurrence translates into the highest mean annual downtime.

Has our Energy secretary been appraised with these facts as he dashes for more bird mincers? Probably not.

I leave you with this little snippet.

With estimated annual O&M costs at €100,000 to €300,000 per 2MW-3MW offshore turbine and at €200,000 to €720,000 for larger turbines (according to a previous Wind Energy Update report), operators need access to more reliable data, stresses the report.

You can read the whole article HERE.

And weep.


  1. Bad design?

    I run the engineering department of a manufacturing company, with many automatic machines. Over 90% of all faults & downtime are mechanical or pneumatic failures. Electrical & electronic faults are rare and mostly predictable, due (I'd like to believe) to robust design.

    Of course, given sufficient leeway, maintenance departments will always "find" faults, as it's in their interests to do so.

  2. "You can read the whole article HERE.

    And weep."

    Or, rush to buy a Workboat, & set up a Turbine Maintenance Company.

  3. "Has our Energy secretary been appraised with these facts as he dashes for more bird mincers? " ..

    I think you may rest assured FE, that Huhne is fully aware .. not that it'll make one iota of difference .. He's notorious for setting his stall out & refusing to compromise, once he's stated his views ..

  4. EdP.

    I think that the designers of offshore wind turbines never factored in the hostile environment that the turbines would be subjected to. I suspect that they were complacent after building numerous onshore turbines which operate in a relatively benign environment.

  5. Yes, so bad design. They should have consulted marine engineers - it's not as if there's a lack of knowledge about salt corrosion.

  6. I drive a 1962 DB4; gearbox by David Brown. Most things have gone wrong with it, save the gearbox, which will soldier on forever. Perhaps a bit over-engineered to suit the agenda of the ghastly spivs who sign up to these monstrosities...

  7. "Most things have gone wrong with it, save the gearbox by David Brown, which will soldier on forever."

    Now if your DB4 was powered by a Gardner engine, there would be TWO things which hadn't gone wrong with it!

    Mind you, it would be a VERY slow DB4...


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