Benefits of Turbine Vibration Monitoring

GE wind turbineBy using wireless vibration monitoring, wind turbine operators can reduce the risk of operational downtime or catastrophic failure, according to an article on

The article details a number of specific phenomena where wireless vibration monitoring can detect to avoid significant down time.

Bearing failure, which is often caused by a misaligned shaft, is the most common type of wind turbine failure. In the case of 1 MW to 2 MW turbines, bearing failure accounts for about 70 percent of breakdowns, the article says. With vibration monitoring, there is a greater chance of detecting impending failure and making repairs prior to a major failure happening.

Shaft misalignment can also cause a turbines generator to fail. This more costly problem can cause extended downtime, dramatically increasing a breakdown’s total cost, the article says. Again this problem may well be able to be noticed via a wireless vibration detector.

According to an NREL study cited in the report gearboxes are one of the most expensive components of a wind turbine, but they often require major repair long before the design life of a turbine has been reached. Vibration monitoring can be used to detect the increased vibrations caused by a broken gear tooth.

Wireless vibration technology can also be used to correctly assign routine maintenance at appropriate times, reducing unnecessary maintenance and shutdowns and enabling further savings, the article says.

Continuous monitoring can also provide feedback on how well maintenance or repairs have been carried out, the article says. Vibration information can be used to confirm whether or not maintenance has achieved the desired result.

A hypothetical wind farm with with 100, 250 kW turbines could save $378,780 in total costs by using vibration monitoring, the article says.

Earlier this month, the Energy Department announced that 2012 saw wind energy become the number one source of new US electricity generation capacity for the first time – representing 43 percent of all new electric additions and accounting for $25 billion in US investment. According to the report, over 13 GW of new wind power capacity were added to the US grid – nearly double the wind capacity deployed in 2011.

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