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Risk is on the Wind

Periodic commentary about the wind energy industry, focusing on news of interest involving wind turbines, wind farms, wind energy projects as well as associated technology and social/political issues. Brought to you by Valentine, your source for superior insurance for wind turbines and wind farms worldwide.

Obvious in Hindsight

Viktor Lawryniuk - Friday, September 16, 2011

Ever see a new design and wonder why it took so long to imagine it? Airgenesis twin-rotor turbineThat was my reaction when I read the article in Windpower Engineering & Development today about the Airgenesis turbine design. Their design has a nacelle with two equal-sized rotors at each end which they claim will capture wind at greater capacity factors than conventional designs. So far so good, but the really forehead-smacking idea of theirs is their placement of most of the heavy equipment (gearboxes and generators) in the base at ground level for easy maintenance. They also use multiple generators so they can replace one without having to shut down the turbine. Clever!

The twin rotor idea has its charms as well as this power curve chart demonstrates. I particularly like that this was basically a better design concept not some radical new technology (I like those too). It demonstrates how important creativity is in engineering. Congratulations to Airgenesis!

One Way to Cut Maintenance Costs

Viktor Lawryniuk - Friday, August 12, 2011

Ever since I had a phone interview back in June with Gerald Bush, chairman of GUWARA PTY, I have been paying more attention to the maintenance costs associated with running a wind farm. I had grossly underestimated just how expensive maintenance can be with on-site personnel 24x7 at these often remote locations. So when Donald Effren of AutoCopter Corporation contacted me I was eager to hear about his offering.

Have you seen the TV ads for those toy quadcopters you can contrG-15 AutoCopter and pilotol with your iPhone? Well imagine something sized in-between one of those toys and a small piloted helicopter you might see zipping around doing traffic reports. Now imagine remotely operating this AutoCopter up close and personal to your wind turbine tower while capturing everything you see in HD (visible light or in infrared). Close-ups of every bolt and weld and rust spot recorded and archived. Once you review the footage you can send your crew to specific points of interest for testing and repair. According to Effren, you could externally inspect 45 turbines in two days using the AutoCopter whereas in the typical scenario it would take at least 22 days manually. He estimates the cost per turbine inspected at less than $15!

You would still need to perform your internal inspections as before, but I think it’s clear the AutoCopter would save a lot of time and reduce your exposure to the risk of having human inspectors hanging off of your towers for days on end. If I had a turbine maintenance business I think I’d put these babies on the road and ride the inspection circuit.