Wind turbines are massive expensive machines that generate both electricity and revenue for companies that have invested in them. Any malfunction encountered in the functioning of these machines presents a major challenge due to its unique characteristics. The height of most windmills is about 330 feet and they are usually located in remote areas, are difficult to access and attend to maintenance calls frequently. Since the capacity of a single wind turbine is less than a natural gas or coal plant, multiple wind turbines are built in a single area and the operators have to repair all of those that are defective. Hence, it is very important to properly maintain the turbines and prevent frequent breakdowns.
The key factor that will prevent time-consuming and costly repairs is planned maintenance of your turbines. Periodic lubrication is needed to keep your machines in good shape. You need to be careful in choosing lubricants, gearbox fluids and hydraulic oils for your turbines. Any compromise in the quality of lubrication or frequency of lubrication can compromise the turbine’s efficiency. We recommend using lubricants from reputed companies like Castrol because wind turbines have to withstand everything from potential corrosion from salt-water of the coastal region to extreme temperatures of the tropical regions.
While there are significant costs associated with lubricating your gearbox due to its height - like renting specialty cranes, we would recommend you to lubricate your gearbox at least once in six months as it is crucial to prolong the lifespan and efficiency of your turbine. Most customers want their gear oil to last for anywhere between three to five years as it is strenuous to lubricate it more frequently, but that hampers the performance of your turbine in the long run.
Apart from the gearbox, the blade bearings, main shaft bearings, generator bearings, the yaw and the pitch also require lubrication. When lubricating such a wide variety of parts, you require multiple grades of lubricants to match the required function, unless you are using products that are engineered to serve multiple purposes without compromising on the performance. Be sure to check the specifications of your lubricants and your machines requirements before applying a single solution to multiple applications. Companies that produce lubricants take special care in optimizing the possible applications of their products; they do intensive research and development for these niche applications as the optimum working of wind turbines for a pre-determined maintenance practices is very important.
As the size of turbines and towers continues to increase, the stress on the oil and the unit has also increased. Turbines today have higher megawatt class and longer blades, which means that the specifications are changing rapidly and so are the lubricants that serve to maintain these expensive machines. One easy way to ensure the optimization of oils and machines is to communicate directly with the OEM (Original equipment manufacturer). A major concern while maintaining your turbine will be the optimization your oxidation resistance and maintaining low-temperature fluidity, both of these issues can be resolved if you pay close attention to your base oils and improve your additive packages.
A planned maintenance of wind power farm includes tasks other than turbine lubrication, like torquing of bolts and changing filters. You might encounter unplanned maintenance if some electrical component fails in the turbine; it is like maintaining a car that handles pressure, extreme loads and stress on a regular basis. An average wind turbine produces 2.5 MW – 3 MW of energy, it requires periodic maintenance and consumes spare parts, so keep in mind that the cost of managing the wind turbine should match the revenue generation. You have to constantly monitor the turbines so that you can make proactive maintenance and not wait for them to fail. This will extend the life of your unit and save you from expensive unplanned maintenance.