There is good news and bad news from the AWEA’s WINDPOWER 2014. The bad news is that the PTC remains in limbo, and there could be more people here, although the crowd was acceptable. The good news is that the companies here were glad to talk about the new products and services they have developed.
The show floor is bit smaller than Chicago last year but the excitement of a good wind show is palpable. Here’s what I encountered from 10 to 5.
Bearing lubrication is relatively simple compared to gear lubrication. The sliding surfaces of gear teeth quickly wipe lube off them. Kluber Lubrication has developed a grease that can be applied with a lubrication system. That’s no big deal until you consider that the grease can be applied at -30C.
A software system capable of predicting turbine problems, can tell with a good degree of accuracy when a population of turbines will begin having trouble and with some degree of accuracy, it will point out the most likely few. Company CEO Ed Wagner says the systems can model materials to the surface, the substructure, and down to the grain structure. The database and algorithms were built from years of working with military aircraft bearings and that let the company build a knowledge base on material and wear surfaces, such as bearings, races, and gears.
At Timken’s booth, Nathan Glessner, VP H&N Electric introduced the company as now part of Timken. The company provides up tower services such as gearbox change outs, gearbox repairs, and oil changes. The company also serves as a distributor for Mersen components, mostly slip rings, and slip ring brushes.
The big news from large battery-system manufacturer A123 Systems is that the company is being bought by NEC Corp. The company manufacturers lithium-ion batteries into containers with controls for frequency control of utility grids.
S&C Electric showed off some tried and true wind farm products. One, a 34.5kV switch, is narrow enough to fit inside a tower door and mount at the base of a turbine. Previously, a turbine’s high voltage switch was pad mounted in a separate housing. David Veach, Renewable Energy & Energy Storage Application Director with the company gave us a tour of their booth that we recorded and will be available for viewing shortly. Another switchgear product viewed was a Vista substation for about a 90 MW wind farm. The substation switch gear can be assembled and tested in the factory and then shipped to the site, mounted, and wired. Previously, such substations were larger and had to be assembled on site which consumed time and cost.
Boulder Wind Power, a developer of a direct drive generators, showed an expanded product line. The company has developed a 5-MW generator that weights about 36 tons, a diet of about 12 tons over conventional direct drive designs. The news that CEO Andris Cukurs revealed dealt with a generator design that provided a dc output. The advantages are that the electronic controls are less expensive and readily available. Better yet, the efficiency of the output power is over 99%.
Campbell Scientific displayed some of the company’s remote monitoring instruments. Marketing Manager Matt Perry suggested that the company’s sonic point-location wind sensor was the most accurate on the market. Other equipment on display included visibility sensors and two versions of lidar wind sensors. One is intended to do the work of a met mast (by pointing up) and another is intended for nacelle mounting, to look in front of a rotor to sense incoming wind direction, and mostly to correct yaw pointing. A two degree correction can yield $1 million in revenue for a large wind farm.
Like other firms here, Romax Technology continues to expand its product portfolio. The company started with gearbox design services, graduated to condition monitoring, and most recently displayed a multi-channel data logger light enough to take up tower. Engineering Manager Chris Halse and Head of Monitoring John Coultate say it would be left there to monitor a running turbine for short periods, say 24 hours. When the data is retrieved, it can be analyzed for pending trouble spots. The product, no formal name yet, is aimed at wind farms without more formal condition monitoring equipment.