Maintaining Wind Turbines with Christensen's Fuel and Lubricant Solutions
Christensen understands that our partners in the power industry constantly strive to improve efficiency and operational reliability, enhancing competitiveness by avoiding lost output and reducing maintenance costs. The same is true for the wind energy sector, which has become the leading form of clean and renewable energy in the nation, growing to become the third-largest source of electricity generation capacity in the United States. This has placed greater demand on lubricants as modern power-generation equipment is designed to operate for longer intervals between services. Christensen’s solutions can greatly help our partners in this regard.
Wind Power Facts
Wind is the largest source of renewable energy in the United States. More than 60,000 wind turbines operate across the country, generating clean and reliable power. Wind power capacity currently totals at 125 GW, making it the third largest source of energy generation capacity in the United States. It is enough to serve approximately 39 million American homes.
As of 2019, the United States wind industry supported 120,000 jobs throughout the nation. Six states draw nearly a quarter of their energy from wind energy. Additionally, due to wind energy, 198 million metric tons of CO2 emissions were avoided in 2019.
Modern wind turbines operate by capturing kinetic energy from the wind to generate electricity. As the wind moves the blades of the turbine, the rotors turn a main shaft connected to a gearbox, which converts the low-speed and high-torque power of the blades into high-speed and low-torque power that is then transferred to the generator.
Challenges Facing Wind Energy Sector
Wind energy is not without its challenges. As more wind turbines are constructed, and as turbine designs grow larger, the demand for them will only increase. There is also more pressure to extend turbine maintenance intervals and operating lives.
Higher loads impart more pressure on lubricant or grease layers, causing moving metal surfaces closer together, which can increase wear significantly if they are too close. Higher levels of wear can significantly reduce component life and increase maintenance costs.
At the same time, many wind turbines are also positioned in difficult to access locations or tough climates. Turbines and their greases can be exposed to temperature extremes, very dry or humid environments, as well as corrosion in the case of offshore locations. The remoteness of these locations also make accessibility and maintenance more challenging.
In short, turbines are expected to bear high mechanical loads, yet many are in locations that are not easy to access for maintenance crews. These factors contribute to accelerated wear and make proper lubrication and maintenance services all the more crucial in preserving wind turbine operations.
Reducing Downtime Boosts Productivity
Proper lubrication can positively impact wind turbine downtime. This is why it is essential for wind energy businesses to leverage qualified experts, as reducing downtime is only possible if the right products are applied properly.
The types of lubricants utilized by wind turbines include:
- Gear oils
- Hydraulic oils
The main gearbox oil is the most important lubricant and most wind turbine units use ISO 320 synthetic gear oil. Superior gear oil can also reduce incidences of white etching cracks in wind turbine gearboxes. Gearbox failure is one of the largest failures in wind turbine operations and most repairs cannot be achieved “up tower.” The replacement process is also extremely expensive. This requires a full maintenance team as well as a large crane, as the gearbox must be removed and a new or refurbished replacement has to be installed. While white etching cracks have many potential causes, lubricant composition is one of the main factors.
Christensen has a wide range of lubricants designed to meet our partners’ needs, whether it’s for reducing maintenance time with extended-life oils, improving efficiency, or increasing the reliability of wind turbines. Our products help reduce process and equipment ownership costs by providing:
- Enhanced protection
- Reduced lubricant consumption
- Improved efficiency
In short, wind turbine operators can see significant productivity increases due to investing in the right grease.
Additionally, Christensen’s expert advisors can also help partners increase the efficiency of their facilities and provide training to their workforces. Our lubricant specialists have developed a deep understanding of our partners’ industry challenges and can use this knowledge and experience to create products and solutions designed to provide benefits and improvements, which can be applied in our partners’ sites.
Christensen is committed to sustainable and environmentally-friendly solutions, helping our partners leverage new technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the efficiency of their businesses.
In the wind energy sector there is greater demand on lubricants as modern power-generation equipment is designed to operate for longer intervals between services. This is why effective lubricant management services are essential.
Interested in improving your business’ lubrication and maintenance practices? Reach out to Christensen today. Christensen services clients in Washington and across the Pacific Northwest including Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.