Risk assessment of an offshore wind turbine and remaining useful life (RUL) estimation of the power converter. Improving availability by prioritising failures with higher risk to operation

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Abstract

By 2014, almost 2500 offshore wind turbines were installed in Europe representing 8GW of capacity connected to the grid and, there is a growing market penetration for the next years. Offshore wind farm operators are facing many challenges related to disparate data sources utilisation for O&M logistic optimisation. Therefore, the decision-making process needs to be based on sound analysis of the wind farm information or data available. According to several technical reports operation and maintenance (O&M) cost could reach until 30% of the levelised cost of energy (LCOE). Understanding the reliability of an offshore wind turbine and the resources required to maintain it is crucial to reduce O&M costs and thus, to reduce the levelised cost of energy (LCOE). There is a need to reduce unnecessary tasks, prioritise the most urgent tasks, improve usage of vessels, crew and technicians, reduce the cost of spare parts held and schedule preventative maintenance to minimise downtime and maximise revenue. Currently, risk assessment plays an important role in the operation and maintenance (O&M) strategies of offshore wind farms. A comprehensive failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA) has been carried out to determine critical assemblies of a generic offshore wind turbine with an induction generator, three stages gearbox and monopile foundation. The main objectives of undertaking this comprehensive FMEA was to identify those failures with significant impact on the wind turbine operation and to identify or highlight areas of risk for maintainability and availability. The FMEA is validated with; widely-used data available in the public domain; Lloyd’s Register’s experience of working with wind farm operators and; Lloyd’s Register experience of working on reliability of the mechanical system of different industrial sectors for decades. The FMEA is further augmented and updated by the use of on-going measurements from operating wind farms. Yaw system, pitch system, power converter and gearbox have been identified in the FMEA as the most critical assemblies regarding risk to the turbine operation. Power converter analysis shows high failure rates and a large proportion of undetectable failures, therefore maintenance resources have been spent on fault finding with its corresponding cost. New approaches are necessary to tackle electrical or electronic failures, especially on the power converter. To improve overall reliability, a method to estimate the remaining useful life (RUL) of a fully-rated converter in a variable speed wind turbine is proposed using data commonly available for offshore wind farm operators. Studies show that the economic impact is dominated by failures related to power electronic components such as IGBTs and capacitors due to their higher repair cost. Mathematical models have been developed to correlate turbine operation variables and environmental conditions with failure root causes to define wear and maintenance actions based on the probability of failure.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Conference on Offshore Renewable Energy
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016

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