E.ON Climate & Renewables and Romax team up to tackle wind turbine end of life costs

Romax Technology, a leader in application design solutions for bearings and gearboxes, is working with E.ON Climate & Renewables, responsible for E.ON Group’s global renewables and carbon sourcing activities, to develop a joint programme to predict the life and maintenance needs of wind turbine driveline components.

Operations and maintenance can account for up to 25 per cent of the cost of a wind energy project, and with the number of these projects increasing, spiraling costs mean turbine operators need solutions to reduce costs and improve profitability.

To address this, Romax and E.ON have developed an Equivalent Operating Hours (EOH) programme to identify the remaining useful life of the most critical drivetrain components of wind turbines.

Using predictive methods based on advanced algorithms, it then provides real-time forecast updates for the components’ remaining life. The calculations incorporate parameters such as service history, local operating conditions and the effects of transient events.

Nigel Parlor, Contract Relationship Manager for Romax explains: “Without planning beforehand, maintenance of offshore wind turbines can be time consuming and costly. Operations typically require specialist equipment such as jack-up vessels and cranes which have to be factored into specific ‘weather windows’.

“With the EOH programme, we aim to provide wind turbine owners and operators with the ability to pre-empt when turbine drivetrain components are coming to their end of life and consequently be in a position to schedule any maintenance in advance, leading to significant cost savings.”

The programme started in 2010 as an innovation development project on one of E.ON’s offshore wind farms. Its predictive maintenance models have been tested and after showing promising results, the EOH programme has been extended to a further two onshore and two offshore projects. It is now scheduled for completion in 2017.

Jörgen Bodin, Director of Technology & Innovation at E.ON Climate & Renewables says: “Early indications have suggested a significant ROI from using this predictive programme. We hope that the project with Romax will transform wind energy operations and maintenance through more targeted and proactive activity, which in turn will improve the running cost and increase reliability.”