Oil analysis in wind turbine gearboxes

July 14th, 2014, Published in Articles: Energize


South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), under the leadership of the Department of Energy (DoE), envisages renewable energy contributing 42% or 17,8 GW of the country’s new generation capacity by 2030. One of the ways the DoE plans to achieve this is with 8,4 GW of wind generated power.

The DoE’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) has already resulted in the completion of three successful bidding windows with a fourth bidding window to start in July 2014. The approved bids from rounds one, two and three combined with the proposed bids for round four will result in the construction of numerous wind farms over the next ten years which will collectively house in the region of 2500 wind turbines.

Fig. 1: Bathtub curve.

Fig. 1: Bathtub curve.

The estimated life span of wind turbines is about 20 years, compared to conventional steam turbine generator units which have averaged 40 years. The failure rate of wind turbines is about three times higher than that of conventional generators and this has historically been attributed to constantly changing loads experienced by the wind turbine as a result of environmental variants.

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