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Massachusetts Wind Turbines Out of Warranty

Catastrophic Gear Box Failures
Catastrophic Gear Box Failures

Massachusetts

Commercial megawatt turbines coming out of warranty.

Consumers,state, town and city officials need to be alert to the failure of federal, state and local officials to do "Due Diligence" on the installations of gear box driven commercial wind turbines in Massachusetts and Rhode Island since 2009. They are coming out of warranty and price to be paid looks high.

The first thing Rhode Island officials said was: "We didn't have a crystal ball how could we have known."

Well everybody know it now !

One of the first wind turbines installed was the Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC) on the Massachusetts Military Reservation. The Fuhrländer 1.5 gear driven megawatt turbine went up in 2009. The turbine has a failing gear box in which the military denies but has purchased a second gear box and has the parts on site just in case of a failure. The turbine has been plagued by mechanical problems and poor service from the manufacturer. The turbine is located near Rte 28 and Rte 151. Bankruptcy is an issue.

The Town of Portsmouth, Rhode Island built a gear driven turbine at their high school and spent over 3 million dollars for the megawatt gear box driven wind turbine. The gear box failed just after two years of operation and remains broken today. This turbine may have additional problems with unbalanced blades that could cost an additional one million dollars to repair.The wind company went bankrupt.  Blade inspection is required when changing gear boxes every three to five years. The Portsmouth gear box investigation is available here : http://docs.wind-watch.org/Portsmouth_RI_Turbine_Gearbox.pdf

Next the Town of Princeton, Massachusetts built two gear box driven commercial wind turbines. One of the turbines suffered a catastrophic failure costing over $600,000.00 to repair. The special heavy duty crane costs $150,000.00 for just three days to do the lifting and weeks to set up. Princeton, Massachusetts pays the highest electric rates in New England.

The Towns of Fairhaven, Scituate and Charlestown have Sinovel Chinese made gear box driven turbines coming out of warranty in the next few months. Sinovel wind company has been placed on the Chinese watch list for failing stocks. The warranties are no good if the companies go bankrupt,

The commercial wind turbine industry has been hiding the dirty little secret of gear box failures for years.In fact the wind industry no longer builds gear driven turbines and has switched to direct drive turbines as a result of all the failures.

Vestas Wind Company bought out a company called Neg Micron that built NM-82 megawatt turbines that went out of business because of massive gear box failures. Falmouth has three gear driven Vestas V-82 commercial wind turbines were derived from the older gear driven wind turbine company. Again gear driven turbines.


Paul Shaw March 19, 2014 at 03:44 PM
For decades, the DOE has been researching and documenting failures due excessive and impulsive mechanical loads, due to HIGH WIND SHEAR. The NREL and RERL documented HIGH WIND SHEAR at multiple locations in Massachusetts including Fairhaven. The gear boxes have been failing. No surprise. There is no credible reason for officials acting surprised, being unaware and especially omitting due diligence prior to permitting. (warning: technical talk below. you are welcome to read and I won't blame you one bit if you decide it might be a nice time to go out for a walk instead.) 1. High wind shear wipes out the noise advantage of the pitch control design. Pitch control turbines such as the GE 1.5MW (Mars Hill, Freedom, Vinalhaven as example sites) and Sinovel SL1500 (Fairhaven) were touted by promoters as quieter than the fixed pitch design such as the Vestas V82 1.65MW (Falmouth Wind 1, Wind 2, and Webb Notus). Why? Well, promoters probably didn't understand or didn't bother to clearly communicate the harmful side effects of high wind shear. Ostensibly, pitch control results in comparatively lower noise because the variable pitch blade can be angled for optimal power as wind speeds increase. The fixed pitch blade is set for one optimal wind speed and can't stay in a best match to increased incoming wind; at stronger winds aloft, the noise rises about 5 dB louder compared to the equivalent variable pitch design. Please note: This difference is established in smooth, low shear wind testing (light to strong) using the international standard IEC 61400 which stipulates testing in smooth low shear. But: this optimal angling of the variable pitch blades is wiped away in high wind shear. During high wind shear conditions, the variable pitch blade can't match the incoming wind through its entire rotation, only at one point going up and one point swinging down; as a result the maximum noise levels rise dramatically and amplitude modulation (swoosh, whump) gets strong. Fairhaven DEP data confirm- the Sinovel variable pitch turbines are up to 10 dB louder than predicted. 2. High wind shear destroys gear boxes. It does so exactly as you might imagine, by putting excessive and shock loads on the gearing through cyclical and shock loading on the blades. Loads can exceed manufacturer design specs. Even annealed steel goes to pieces eventually. Failures tend to happen in the wee hours of the night when shear is highest. You don't have to take my word for it. NREL documented this phenomenon. SCADA conditioning monitoring for predictive maintenance "should" be able to identify and trend gear wear. This takes experience in predictive maintenance, not exactly a widespread skill. Trending vibration, cumulative shock and loading can give an indication of how far along things might be. Catastrophic gear failure due to sudden shock damage may not be possible to forecast. The fact is this: If a wind turbine with gearbox is installed in a high wind shear zone, premature gear failure appears inevitable. No bets should be placed on bearings living forever either. HIGH WIND SHEAR. Some people might callously dismiss the appeals of their neighbors and children who can't sleep... yet when a $1Million gear box replacement bill (per turbine) lands on the Town's docket, you can bet some people will start getting involved.
Blowin Smoke March 19, 2014 at 06:45 PM
The impressive length and detail of Mr. Shawn's post makes it seem as if he's an expert. And yet he has a big, and very basic misunderstanding.. He thinks the Vestas V82 turbines are a "fixed pitch design" in which the blade's angle of attack doesn't vary. That's not true, the V82, like all modern turbines, has active pitch control - this is how the level of power generation is controlled. Angle of attack is constantly adjusted, automatically. When they're shut down, the blades are turned 90 degrees (aka feathered). Mr. Shaw is attempting to write about the difference between pitch control and stall control (both use automatic adjustment of angle of attack) but he lacks even basic understanding of the topic.

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