Technological advances in wind energy – a new report
Published: 3 May 2012 - Joe Bush
A new report by business intelligence company GBI Research, claims that technological advancements in wind power mechanisms will negatively impact upon the wind energy operations and maintenance market, but will improve renewable energy generation.
The new report found that mechanical developments will allow wind farms to run far more efficiently, increasing profits and helping the environment, once initial investments are made to upgrade aging turbines.
The global wind energy operation and maintenance (O&M) market is currently being driven by an increasing numbers of installations backed by financial incentives, capital subsidies and tax rebates, the component failure rates of turbines, and the aging nature of the majority of wind turbines in operation.
However, upcoming technological innovations in wind farm components are expected to cause reductions in O&M revenue during the long term future, as improved efficiency of wind power systems will decrease risks of breakage.
Europe represents the largest global O&M market. As one of the first large scale installers of wind turbines, the region is also the largest market for wind energy O&M, with a substantial number of ageing wind turbines requiring regular repair and maintenance.
Direct Drive Train (DDT) technology eliminates the need for a gearbox in wind turbines, which represents one of the major causes of breakdowns, as seen in the negative publicity generated around recent gearbox failures in the UK’s offshore Kentish Flats wind farm. DDT improves power output, increases reliability, and reduces costs over the life of a turbine, and, although direct drive wind turbines are more expensive than geared turbines, they are more economical considering the entire life of a project.
Tension control measurement technology for bolted joints on turbines is another advancement that acts to minimise O&M costs. An estimated 90% of bolted joint failures in wind installations occur as a result of insufficient bolt tension. This technology can therefore potentially save millions over a plant’s 20 year life.