Getting your wind turbines in gear
Unlike most primary energy sources, wind as a body or mass is harder to quantify due to its erratic nature – which makes it even more challenging to capture. This level of dynamism means there is a limited amount of kinetic energy that a wind turbine can seize before the rest of it is driven downstream.
Despite this, its abundance is the reason why wind power is being pursued as a potentially self-sufficient source of clean energy as we move globally towards meeting new domestic and supranational emissions targets.
The productivity of a wind turbine varies from one day to the next and cannot rely only on its shape, structure and agility to produce as much wind power as it possibly can.
Design alone, therefore, goes only so far to optimising blade rotation and requires the support of a gearbox to keep the turbine operating at the speed necessary to maintain a cost-efficient flow of power drawn from the world’s atmosphere.
To ensure that wind remains a driving force in the transition to cleaner energy sources, increasing the wind turbine’s efficiency through measures such as gearbox optimisation, will be key to unlocking its potential and can help to ensure that the energy it does capture is stored and distributed resourcefully and doesn’t go to waste further down the value chain.
At a wind turbine’s centre is the gearbox that keeps the turbine turning when wind picks up and loses momentum. So, if it breaks down, the wind turbine is out of action which can lead to expensive repairs and downtime. Therefore, lubrication is important to the maintenance and upkeep of the whole operation.
Effective Lubrication helps to eradicate certain pressures on the gearbox, including surface fatigue – commonly known as micropitting – as well as bearing failure, which, if ignored, can cause costly repairs and reduce the wind turbine’s lifespan.
As solar and wind power grow in influence during the transition towards a mosaic of energy solutions, wind turbines must operate as close to their optimal level of efficiency as possible if the sector is going to compete for increasing demand from the power consumer.
Considering this, Shell Lubricants has the expertise and support to help increase gearbox efficiency. As an expert partner, its team demonstrates how lubrication can improve wind-turbine effectiveness through advanced gearbox maintenance, and how a high-performance lubricant can help to extend the lifespan of the gearbox.
For example, Shell Omala S5 advanced synthetic wind turbine gear oil has a 10 year warranty and means that the gearbox requires only one oil change rather than the industry-standard two during the turbine’s lifecycle.
Putting this into perspective, improved and trusted lubrication allows maintenance staff to spend less time attending to the efficiency of the turbine’s transmission and place more effort on sustaining its structural integrity, which is an important part of keeping the turbine’s blades turning.
As lubrication goes further and the number of oil changes are reduced, wind power will become easier to manage and bolster their cause during the international drive towards more sustainable forms of power.