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Wind - Wind Energy and Vibration

The primary costs of any service are operations and maintenance (O&M). Owners and managers succeed or fail based on their control of these two key issues.  Vibration control is an operational cost and a maintenance impact.

Maintenance is either scheduled or unscheduled.  Component failure, such as a gearbox’s bearings causes loss of revenue, as well as a potentially catastrophic failure of the entire wind turbine.  Early detection of potential failures is key.  Analysis of the vibration can save the turbine owner thousands in one turbine alone.  Across an entire farm the costs can soar to the millions of dollars.


  David Milborrow, in his 15 June 2010 article, Breaking Down the Cost of Wind Turbine Maintenance, in the WindPower Monthly, addressed the cost of O&M, “The inexactitude of the science of calculating O&M costs begins with the variety of ingredients that make up the whole in addition to scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. The diagram below shows data taken from an analysis four years ago from sister publication Windstats, showing that the costs of O&M ranged from €15-26/MWh ($19-34USD) and, while this is an average, there are significant variations both above and below the estimates quoted. The latest data from the International Energy Agency, reporting from 12 different countries, gives a similar range of €7-26/MWh ($9-34USD).

The data indicates that operational costs fall with an increase of turbine size, and a report from The Institut fur Solare Energieversorgungstechnik (ISET) suggests that machines in the 800-100kW range have about 15% lower operational costs than those of machines in the 420-490kW range. Lower values can also be expected from large wind farms, simply because overheads can be spread over more machines.
Wind plant operators have little control over most of the elements of O&M, but they can influence both scheduled and unscheduled maintenance costs.”


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     Vibration impacts costs in the United States, as well as globally.  The following is an analysis and a table published in the 2009 Wind Technologies Market Report, a DOE publication.