Wind turbines are exposed to high wind speeds, temperature variations, and mechanical forces. Over time, these factors can cause wear and tear, potentially leading to costly malfunctions and a reduced lifespan of the turbine. For this reason, it’s important to monitor the condition of a wind turbine to prevent unplanned downtime, as this can have significant consequences. In this article, we describe these financial impacts and how asset managers, operators, and operators of wind turbines benefit from vibration monitoring and vibration analysis of their wind farm to avoid these (unforeseen) costs.
The most obvious consequence of unplanned downtime in wind turbines is the loss of electricity production and thus missed revenue. Wind turbines generate electricity based on the available wind, and every minute a turbine is idle means lost income. The financial impact is mainly determined by two factors: the location of the wind turbine, and the season when the downtime occurs. If the wind turbine is in an area with good wind conditions, where the production potential is high, it will have a greater effect than in a location where the production potential is lower. And if the downtime occurs in the fall or winter, when there is generally more wind than in the summer, this also has a different impact on the extent of missed revenue.
In addition to missed income, unplanned downtime also incurs additional operational costs. Resolving technical issues, repairs, and maintenance work require specialized labor, parts, and equipment. These costs can add up quickly and heavily impact the profitability of a wind energy project. Consider also that the required equipment and parts are readily available.
In some cases, operators may have contractual obligations to deliver a minimum amount of electricity. Unplanned downtime can lead to breach of contract and result in fines or legal disputes, further increasing financial burdens.
Wind energy is a variable energy source, and the balance between supply and demand on the electricity grid is crucial. Unplanned downtime can lead to a shortage of electricity at times of high demand, causing the price of electricity on the market to rise. This can result in additional costs for the wind energy company to compensate for the imbalance.
Vibration analysis for condition monitoring of wind turbines
Vibration monitoring systems are used to measure the vibrations and movements of the wind turbine in real-time. These data are analyzed to generate early warnings for potential issues, such as imbalance in the rotor blades, worn bearings, or other mechanical failures. By detecting these problems early, proactive maintenance can be planned before serious damage occurs, thereby maximizing the availability of the turbine.
Vibration analysis services for wind turbines
Istec offers vibration analysis services for wind farms, providing insights into the condition of wind turbines. With Europe’s largest in-house team of highly certified vibration specialists, we support managers (operators) and owners of wind farms in their mission to operate their wind parks at optimal performance levels.