The wind industry has experienced extensive growth since an initial boom in the mid-1990s. Wind power is poised to become a prominent part of the energy supply for global demand. However, as wind turbines get bigger and more expensive, fire risk is becoming a greater concern for the industry.
Firetrace International recently sat down with Eric Fogg from Machine Metrics, and Conor Puckett from BioChem Fluidics to understand the rapid changes they’ve seen in the safety and data overlap due to COVID-19, and how this will continue to impact the manufacturing space well into the future.
Operations and maintenance are critical elements and a significant amount of the costs associated with a wind farm. Having a well-planned maintenance program will ensure wind turbines are running efficiently and at their highest capacity. Overall general maintenance, up-tower repairs, and down-tower remanufacturing processes help to reduce the total cost of energy production and extend the life expectancy of a wind turbine.
Recently, Firetrace International had a panel discussion with two entrepreneurial machinists – Adam Demuth of Demuth Tool, and Dan Rudolph of Rudolph LLC, where we discussed how they got started with their own machine shops and advice they had for others looking to do the same. We took that discussion to compile a list of some of the most important things to consider if you’re also looking to start your own shop.
After halons were phased out of fire suppression systems back in the 1990s, it created a need for alternatives. The challenge was that halons were very effective in extinguishing most types of fires, electrically non-conductive, safe for limited human exposure, and leave no residue. The disadvantage of halons and why there was a ban placed on them is due to their strong ozone depletion potential. Over the past several decades, several fire suppression agents and technologies have emerged. In this post, we will explore aerosol fire suppression systems.
The most common types of wind turbine failure are turbine blades, generators, and gearboxes. Regular maintenance and inspections of wind turbines create challenges due to the remote locations of wind farms and the size and height of the turbines. During regularly scheduled maintenance, it can be difficult to access the massive rotor blades and evaluate the blade materials and the complex surface areas. New technologies like the use of drones for blade inspections are being used, which aids in the inspection process. However, without proper monitoring and maintenance, it can lead to component failure.
Unlike one-time cost savings like a staff reduction or cutting advertising spend, increasing efficiency delivers cost savings over the long term. That makes efficiency gains an attractive option for many shops looking to cut costs during COVID-19.
Fire in wind turbines is the second most common type of accident reported after blade failure. While certain types of wind turbines have a higher occurrence rate of fire, all wind turbines have fire risk factors. Within the nacelle, highly flammable materials including, hydraulic oil and plastics, are located near electrical wiring and equipment. A fire can quickly start and spread if there is an ignition source like an electrical arc or a fault within the transformer.
From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have been grappling with supply chain disruption. There's been a lot of speculation that as a result, American companies are going to bring more of their supply chains on shore or near shore to North America. We analyze possible outcomes in this Q&A with Cullen Morrison.
The two types of wind farm repowering are full repowering and partial repowering. Full wind farm repowering is when the aging wind turbines are decommissioned and removed and replaced with newer, larger, and more efficient wind turbines at the same site. Partial repowering involves keeping the existing wind turbine and replacing key components to improve power capacity, reliability, and extend the lifespan.
Wind turbines stand over 300 ft tall with each blade measuring over 100 ft long with blade speeds of up to 180 mph. Fire protection for these giant structures poses a variety of unique risks. Because there is no formal reporting process of reporting and recording fire incidents in wind turbines, it’s hard to get an accurate count. However, in a 2015 report, Towering Inferno, completed by GCube, a clean energy insurance provider, cited 50 wind turbine fire incidents.