GlobeCore / Publications / Wind Turbine Gearbox Maintenance

Wind Turbine Gearbox Maintenance

Wind Turbine Gearbox

Wind turbine is a large and complex machine that  produces electricity. Of course, its efficiency depends on the conditions of its components. One of the most important parts is the wind turbine gearbox. If any of the windmill inner parts wears out quickly, it causes financial losses and even danger of total turbine failure. That’s why wind turbines need proper lubrication and constant maintenance.

What is a Wind Turbine Gearbox?

A wind turbine gearbox is a special device inside the electrical windmill, which increases the speed of shaft rotation. In turn, the gearbox is a part of the turbine drivetrain, which is responsible for windmill motion. Thus, wind turbine gearbox is crucial for power generation efficiency.

Generally, it is a large and powerful device in the transmission system that can have various designs and configurations depending on manufacturers requirements.

Picture 1. Wind Turbine Gearbox

In general, a gearbox increases the low speed shaft from about 30-60 revolutions per minute (rpm) to the high speed at about 1,000-1,800 rpm.

Gearboxes (or reducers) of wind turbines are usually developed using various software modeling tools, computer models and calculation methods. Models used throughout the industry are complex, from simple contact pinion models and bearing stiffness models to full-scale simulations of the entire system.

A wind turbine gearbox is placed inside the housing on top of the tower. There are dozens of different models of gearboxes, depending on the size and power of the generator. But all of them need qualified maintenance.

Picture 2. Wind Turbine System Construction

Gearbox Oil Maintenance

The lubricating oil system needs proper and constant maintenance. First of all, the supply of clear and lubricant is important. It must be of appropriate viscosity and pure.

Reliability issues will never disappear completely, but solving the problems in time should reduce maintenance costs in aging wind farms.

The service life of the gearbox can be extended by proper care. It should include oil analysis, then oil cleaning or changing if needed.

Careful gearbox maintenance practices extend the life of the wind turbine.

System Fail Causes and Effects

One of the most common reasons of wind turbine system failures is poor lubrication. As a result, the gearbox wears out. There are a number of different factors:

  • gear-tooth and axial cracking;
  • heating
  • clogging
  • rusting

All these issues can cause turbine failures and even lead to dangerous consequences. Of course, there are many other possible reasons of wind turbine breaking, but the key factor is mostly poor oil condition.

The danger can be immense. Not enough control and care may lead to failure that can provoke a fire.

Picture 3. Wind Turbine on Fire

Burning wind turbine

GlobeCore Maintenance Equipment

GlobeCore produces equipment for wind turbine gearbox oil treatment. Special CMM-G plant has the newest technologies of wind turbine servicing in different ways: gearbox oil cleaning, gearbox oil changing etc. This equipment allows quick and efficient operations.

There is also the CMM-GL maintenance plant, designed for smaller turbines