Wind Energy Reliability and Cost Reduction :Wind Turbine Health Monitoring Systems
Wind energy has numerous benefits as a power source, including price stability, lack of greenhouse gas emissions, revitalization of rural areas, and lack of dependence on imported fuels. As wind increases its penetration into the US power market, it is imperative to minimize costs and maximize reliability, so that it can compete fully with traditional power sources. The primary recurring cost of energy in wind turbines is maintenance. Studies have shown that a few subsystems, especially the gearboxes and the generator, tend to account for most unscheduled maintenance costs, and in-service failures and downtime. Although technology for monitoring both of these systems already exist, they require a large array of costly sensors. What is needed is a more intelligent health monitoring system that maximizes diagnostic coverage while minimizing the number of sensors. This can be done by utilizing advanced diagnostic and prognostic algorithms that have recently been developed for aerospace applications. This project will develop a low-cost, robust health monitoring system applicable to a wide range of commercial wind turbines. Phase I will focus on demonstrating the underlying sensing and diagnostic algorithms. Phase II will include development and demonstration of a complete prototype installed on an operating wind turbine. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: A low-cost, high-payback health monitoring system would have a significant positive impact on wind turbine operations and maintenance costs. In turn, this system would lower the net cost of energy for wind power, providing a good ROI for wind farm operators. Reducing the cost of energy from wind turbines and increasing reliability will accelerate the adoption of this clean energy source. TodayÂ¿s 10,000 MW of wind power are keeping 16 million tons of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas associated with global warming, out of the air every year. In addition, 73,000 tons of sulfur dioxide and 27,000 tons of nitrogen oxide per year also are avoided, compared to emissions from the same amount of energy produced in conventional power plants.
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