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Horizontal-Axis Wind Turbine Reliability Analysis

Abstract

This study attempts to present an analysis of wind turbine reliability through time, specifically the Horizontal-axis wind turbine by collecting studies which were based on surveys and/or simulations. The collected studies focused on failure rates to understand the reliability behavior of wind turbines. To give an overview, a very brief history wind turbines is discussed. The different subtypes of horizontal-axis wind turbines are also enumerated. To further develop an appreciation of the study, the anatomy and construction of wind turbines is also presented briefly. The paper then proceeds to discuss the different studies dedicated to wind turbine failure rates through time. The results showed that wind turbines failure rate increases when it reaches its wear-out life which starts on the 15th year. The analysis is also extended to the critical subassemblies where results vary per study. Towards the end, general steps on how to improve reliability are also discussed. These steps include identifying risk items, identifying the ways these items might fail, and finding the root cause to completely address the problem and prevent recurrence of the same.

Introduction

The growing concern about the ailing environment in recent years lead to the increasing attention to alternative sources of energy, thus the diversification of the energy market from geothermal, solar, biogas, and wind energy. Among these alternative sources, most researchers believed that the wind power is the most promising sustainable source of energy. One machine used to utilize the energy from the wind is the imposing structure of wind turbines. Wind turbines are mechanical devices that use nature's force, in this case, the wind, and turn it into electric current, hence a completely clean, free, and renewable source of energy. For this reason, wind generation caught the interest of many countries in the last twenty years. "Nowadays, wind energy is by far the fastest-growing renewable energy resource. In numbers, the wind turbine capacity installed in Europe increased during the last years at an average annual growth rate superior to 30%" (Fernando et al, 2007,p.18)

Studying reliability will not just require the assessment of a machine as a whole. It calls for an extensive study of its subassemblies or its components to have a total picture on the source of failures; thus, giving an idea on how to address the problem at its root.

As part of the conclusion it is also proper to highlight the key points described in previous studies as follows:

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