Wind turbines are becoming stronger and more efficient at a dramatic pace. If we look at the wind power industry in India, the last ten years have completely transformed it. With major changes made in electronics, rotors, controls and gearboxes - wind power has improved by leaps and bounds in providing an efficient source of renewable energy in India.
The industry initially focused on enhancing the nameplate capacity (The maximum output) of the wind turbines, but the focus has now shifted to upgrading the capacity factor (The average power generated, divided by the nameplate capacity) by increasing the size of the rotors used in wind turbines. This has enabled us to venture into newer locations that have lower wind speeds.
The rotor deals with two different forces – Torque and Thrust. Thrust pushes against the turbine blades and Torque turns the blades. Designing the rotor is a very challenging task as it is subjected to a tremendous amount of thrust. It is a technological marvel that despite facing extreme conditions, the wind turbine is a very reliable machine.
The overall availability of wind turbines ten years ago was only about eighty to eighty-five percent, which was fine because it was seventy percent even before that. But it had to be increased even further as all the other power industries like Gas turbines, Nuclear Power and Steam turbines operated at ninety-eight percent availability. Today the Wind power industry has also reached that mark and operates on ninety-eight percent availability. Thoughtful improvements in many individual components of the wind turbine were made to achieve this goal.
To ascertain that a gearbox can be reliably manufactured, designing processes and manufacturing processes have been combined. The gearbox is designed to have a very long life, hence their gears and bearings are specially hardened. The newer designs of gearboxes allow them to be serviced on top of the tower instead of bringing a crane to get the whole turbine down in case of a malfunction.
Sophisticated 3D modeling technologies now allow companies to run computer simulations and check the response of the machines before actually manufacturing them. In a computer simulation, a person can set Wind Direction, Velocity and Yaw angle; it is easy and economical to recreate actual conditions of the field on a computer.
The need for continuously making the rotors larger will soon be gone as there are softwares available that can account for a wide range of wind velocities and adapt the angle of the blades accordingly. Additionally, virtual labs can be set up to create blades with customized geometry and twist to run simulations that measure the coefficient of lift and drag. Modeling can also be used to recreate the site of operation. Trees, buildings and hills greatly affect the wind conditions and it is import to account for them when determining the position of your windmill. The blades of a wind turbine deal with very complex fluid dynamics. They are very thin towards the end and they have a little twist so that they can deal with high variations in wind speeds and wind direction.
Wind power is clearly more affordable and efficient than it has ever been and the coming years will surely be even more progressive in terms of its development. Moving on the fast track, wind power is an industry that is cost-effective and pollution free; it is the first choice of today's medium and large size companies.
Innovative designs and smart engineering have greatly helped in lowering the cost of wind energy. Technology experts like Castrol have developed products and guidelines that enhances the life of your wind turbines and increase their efficiency. Technology-driven efforts in the right direction have helped the industry to become so big; developments in controls and components of the wind turbines will ensure accelerated growth in the near future.