OWDIn (Offshore Wind Drivetrain Innovation) is a UK Government Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) project led by Ricardo which aims to improve offshore wind reliability and reduce operating cost. Ricardo’s partners include wind farm operator ScottishPower Renewables and the Universities of Sheffield and Strathclyde.
Three core elements of Ricardo’s Wind Energy Project, OWDIn
Wind turbine drivetrain reliability remains one of the most pressing issues for developers and operators of wind farms. The drivetrain is a crucial element in the turbine system, allowing the energy captured from the wind to be converted to usable shaft power that can be fed to the electric generator. However, wind turbines are susceptible to levels of reliability that would be considered unacceptable in other industrial processes, compounded by the difficulties of carrying out significant maintenance on turbines once installed. The goal is to enable new off shore wind turbine drivetrains to survive a full 25-year life without significant maintenance intervention.
For the first of the OWDIn technologies, MultiLifeTM, a test bench environment has already demonstrated the system’s potential to extend bearing life by in the region of 500 percent. In addition, the project involves the development of a Ricardo concept for a unique, dual-function coupling that avoids drivetrain overloads, TorqLifeTM: the Torque-Only Coupling and Torque Truncation system will be applicable only to new offshore wind turbines but offers the prospect of enabling them to survive in the harshest conditions for their full 25 year operating life without major maintenance intervention. Finally, the project aims to develop a next-generation condition monitoring and prognostics system targeted at Offshore Wind farms but capable of retrofit to existing wind farms, SensorLifeTM. This system will use advanced sensors to provide early indications of potential fault development in order to enable preventative measures to be taken, hence avoiding the costs and lost production of enforced downtime through damage.
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