ONYX InSight hosted its Third Annual Wind Turbine Technical Symposium in Golden Colorado, in September 2018.
Wind Turbine Fires: Findings from the 2018 US Wind Technical Symposium
This year’s ONYX InSight US Wind Turbine Technical Symposium was a great success. The focus of this year’s event was wind turbine fires. The cost of an onshore turbine fire in North America (1.5-2.5MW nameplate capacity) is estimated to be between $2M and $4M. Invited speakers included fire investigation experts and turbine owners presenting their recent experiences investigating root cause of turbine fires. Presenters informed the audience of 60 industry experts on the approach to conducting fire investigations as well as on results of some investigations originating from both electrical and mechanical failures including; electrical cabinets, main bearings, gearboxes, and brake discs. Root causes included undetected electrical and mechanical component failures and turbines being operated in conditions and states that they were not designed for.
There were 60 guests from over 25 different companies and 9 countries in attendance. During our event, symposium attendees were polled about their experiences related to the topics being presented. Results are summarized below.
The 3-day event consisted of training, workshops, panels, and technical presentations by industry experts.
Our first survey asked who in the audience had experienced a turbine fire.
- 74% of participants had experience with turbine fires
- 25% of participants had experienced more than three fires.
Follow up questions drilled down a little deeper about the cause of these fires.
- 29% – up-tower transformer room.
- 12% – cause was unable to be determined.
Next, we asked what equipment should be implemented to reduce the risk of turbine fire.
- 66% of participants identified additional sensing, such as smoke detectors, temperature, & vibration sensors
- 0% of participants identified automatic fire suppression systems or additional arc flash detectors.
We were able to learn a lot about how owners and operators of wind turbines perceive turbine fires, and how they are looking to prevent such damage in the future. Safer work environments and greater asset security is a common goal. These poll results shed a little more light on how many owners experience turbine fires, what are some common root causes, and the some of the best ways to prevent future fires.
In addition to turbine fires, turbine drivetrain components were discussed at length, including owner’s strategies for predictive maintenance, repairs and reducing the cost of failure.
Attendees were asked how to most effectively improve fleet asset value.
- 74% identified reducing unscheduled maintenance costs.
- 0% identified lowering schedule maintenance costs.
Predictive maintenance is a very effective tool to reduce the cost of unscheduled maintenance. Turbine owners rely on vibration as the most popular approach to predictive maintenance in 2018 (see charts below). Other data sources like inspection, lubrication, and operational data is relied upon to back up decision making or inform on issues. Combining these data sources is critical to making the best decision for operating assets.
Attendees were asked how expectations of vibration monitoring have changed over the years.
- 72% of participants believe “If done well, operators can save a lot of money with vibration monitoring implemented”
- 56% of participants believe vibration is “useful for more than just detecting faults”
New approaches to preventative maintenance are also gaining in popularity.
- 60% of participants believe grease flushing with oil or solvent to is an effective method to reduce failure rates on SRB main bearings
- 45% of participants believe grease purging is an effective method to reduce failure rates on main bearings.
Both techniques refresh grease fill in main bearings, with flushing being a more complete approach
We welcome owners interested in participating in our Fourth Annual Wind Turbine Technical Symposium, to be held in Boulder, CO, September 16 through 19, 2019, to reach out to us by phone or email.
Thanks again to all our speakers for their presentations!