How to increase wind turbine uptime

Six steps to eliminate the risks associated with converters and thus increase turbine uptime and reduce the Levelized Cost of Energy

The wind industry covers over 370 GW accumulated wind capacity worldwide. Due to the large installed base and accumulated operational experience of maintaining wind turbines, wind farm owners have started to focus more on life cycle services and O&M strategies in order to maintain their wind turbines in a more efficient and profitable manner.

When it comes to wind turbine uptime, it cannot be ignored that the electrical drivetrain is regarded a vulnerable part of a wind turbine. As was already discussed in our post ‘Is the electrical drivetrain one of the most vulnerable parts of the wind turbine’, electrical drivetrain related failures account for about one third of the total downtime of a wind turbine and mainly because of converter related failures. This clearly shows that a subcomponent can play a vital role in turbine uptime.

So how can we eliminate the risks associated with converters and thus increase turbine uptime and reduce Levelized Cost of Energy?

ABB’s decades of experience in developing and supplying highly reliable wind turbine electrical drivetrains and converters tells us that we don’t need a major shift in technology to solve today’s challenges. The risks of converter failure can be reduced to a minimum if a few, but very important points, are followed:

  1. Select a supplier that doesn’t only provide support throughout the lifetime of the converter, but also during the evaluation phase and the certification process
  2. Ensure the electrical drivetrain subcomponents are designed, dimensioned and selected to function in perfect sync – a comprehensive experience about the entire electrical drivetrain is essential; knowledge about a single subcomponent, such as the converter, is not enough
  3. Verify that the selected converter is thoroughly type tested, individually, as well as in real electrical drivetrain use, and with full power – pay special attention not only to the converter performance but also how the other subcomponents, such as generator, transformer and switchgears, are interacting; only then all subcomponents can function in perfect sync
  4. Verify the wind turbine and the wind farm performance with real-time simulations and ensure a predictable and smooth grid integration
  5. Ensure that the converter will be commissioned by certified commissioning engineers – this lays the foundation for high efficiency, reliability and uptime of electrical drivetrain
  6. Ensure the supplier can provide fast and efficient support whenever needed – this is key to prevent or minimize turbine downtime

In ABB we do have this knowledge and experience. Since 2002 ABB has supplied converters for wind turbines; currently, the accumulated installed wind converter capacity has exceeded 25 GW worldwide. Meeting the wind industry’s challenges ABB has introduced the ACS880 multi-MW full power converter, starting a new era in the wind converter industry. The ACS880 converter has been designed for onshore and offshore wind turbines in the power range between 0.8 – 8.0 MW.

How can the ACS880 increase wind turbine uptime and reduce LCoE?

This is the question which we will be answering in our forthcoming blog posts. We will be discussing some of the key features of the ACS880 converter that enable a higher uptime of the converter and significantly lower its life cycle costs, such as simplicity during commissioning, easy serviceability, lower parts count, redundancy operation and use of long lasting components. All this supports you, our customers, to achieve a higher availability and thus a higher annual energy yield.


Picture: ACS880-87LC full power converter for 4 MW wind turbines.

Find out more about how ABB’s vast electrical drivetrain experience is helping to achieve a better wind economy in the video below..

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About the author

Jari-Pekka Matsinen

I’m the Global Product Line Service Manager responsible for the wind converter after sales business segment in Product Group Drives Service at ABB Drives Business Unit in Helsinki, Finland. Prior to this role I’ve held various global positions in wind converter Research & Development and Sales & Market management departments at ABB. I joined ABB in 2001 and ever since I’ve been worked in the field of wind industry segment. I like the challenges and trends in wind industry, and I’m focused about on finding the optimal solutions and services for our customers helping them to find sustainable ways for a better wind economy. In my spare time I enjoy exercising and traveling.
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