GCube gets to grips with grinding gearboxes

A leading renewable-energy underwriter employs O&M claims data to assess major cause of turbine failure in global wind industry.

GCube releases Grinding Gearboxes report to assess the major causes of failures in wind turbines.

Specialist renewable-energy underwriter GCube Underwriting Limited has published an in-depth report, entitled Grinding Gearboxes, analyzing gearbox failure by addressing root cause, financial impact and proactive steps to mitigate the frequency and severity of downtime.

As the central component of the drive system, the gearbox has always been a critical interface and constitutes 13% of the overall value of the typical onshore wind turbine. Nonetheless, the current financial climate has led several major gearbox manufacturers to reconsider the manufacturing process from first principles, from forging to final inspection.

This rethink has contributed to market pressures that have seen some companies face insolvency, which, in turn, has presented a major issue for operators seeking repairs and component replacements following the end of the warranty period.

With approximately 175,000 geared turbines in operation in 86 countries worldwide, there are around 1,200 incidents of gearbox failure reported each year – one failure per 145 turbines per year – commonly ranging between $200,000 and $300,000 in insurance claims, in some unique cases exceeding $500,000.

It is therefore crucial that asset managers take proactive, preventative steps to ensure that this financial and operational risk is managed appropriately.

Following on from Breaking Blades, the Grinding Gearboxes report forms part of a series entitled Global Trends in Wind Turbine Downtime Events. It seeks not only to quantify the inherent risk and financial impact of gearbox failure, but also to promote knowledge sharing among GCube insureds and supporting insurance brokers with a view to minimizing that impact.

The report utilizes GCube’s extensive claims database to categorize all known root causes of gearbox failure, ranging from manufacturing defect and cracking of bearing coatings to abnormal blade loads and ineffective lubrication.

It then draws on the expert insight of leading gearbox manufacturer ZF, specialist consultancy Romax, and wind energy claims specialists Renewable Energy Loss Adjusters (RELA) in three in-depth interviews that explore best practice for gearbox maintenance, analysis and repair.

Grinding Gearboxes demonstrates the challenges gearbox failures pose for wind farm operators around the world and promotes industry collaboration to minimize balance sheet losses across the board.

To request a copy of Grinding Gearboxes: Global Trends in Wind Turbine Downtime Events, please email info@gcube-insurance.com.


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