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Project Outline

Technical problem

During the last few years, wind turbine manufacturers and operators have shown strong demand for the development of advanced condition monitoring systems for the evaluation of the overall operational condition of turbines in order to achieve a substantial improvement in the efficiency of preventive maintenance and reduce the need for reactive or corrective maintenance to the lowest possible level.

In Europe, innovation programs have set new growth targets for the wind power generation industry as part of the plan for the decarbonisation of the European economy during the next few decades through the increasing utilisation of renewable sources of energy. As a result, wind farms are predicted to see an unprecedented increase in numbers with thousands of MW-rated wind turbines planned for construction both onshore and offshore across the continent. Nonetheless, reliability aspects of wind power generation have always been a fundamental obstacle in consolidating industrial and societal confidence in wind energy's potential to replace conventional power sources based on the use of fossil fuels as well as a realistic alternative capable of addressing the looming energy crisis.

The BearInspect project will support the effort of the wind power generation industry in the North of England by delivering efficient wind energy not only to North of England but also to the whole Europe by achieving better reliability standards and reducing corrective maintenance costs through accurate condition monitoring of wind turbines.

The Bearinspect project (figure 2) will implement an integrated condition monitoring system which will combine the use of acoustic emission sensors (AE) and vibration accelerometers (VA) in conjunction temperature control (TC), Eddy current (ET) and electronic bolting monitoring (Rotabolt) in order to evaluate the overall operational condition of the turbine's generator, gearbox bearings, main shaft and yaw bearings.

Integration of the aforementioned sensors will allow the full assessment of the condition of the wind turbine mechanical components through the application of a single monitoring system. The implementation of the Bearinspect system will result in a noteworthy reduction of inspection times when compared with existing state-of-the-art procedures. It will also minimise the need for corrective maintenance thus leading to a substantial decrease of the overall operational and maintenance costs. Furthermore, by fusing and analysing the data obtained through the different sensors, it will be made possible to quantify the faults detected by the system and enabling the wind farm operators to update the maintenance schedule accordingly.

Figure 2 Figure 2. Illustrations of the BearInspect concept

Such condition monitoring will greatly increase understanding of the structural integrity of wind turbines, increasing their service life and greatly reducing the risk of unplanned disruptions to power supply.