HBM - your partner for the wind energy industry
As global demand for energy continues to grow there is an increased demand to ensure that operational structures are designed to work – and continue to function - at optimum performance.
HBM has developed its extensive range of equipment both for structural analysis and continued performance across all energy sectors with a particular emphasis on renewable energy.
One of these, wind energy, shows the greatest potential to provide substitute energy for conventional methods of generation. HBM works to ensure improved safety and optimised efficiency in this sophisticated area of energy generation.
Key requirements are quality and long service life
Wind energy generation has been growing consistently by 29% per year – one of the steepest energy growth rates – despite difficulties in nearly every field of industry during the recent economic crisis.
To remain at the forefront wind energy has to develop. The automation of production as seen in the aerospace industry cannot be used because of the extremely high costs. Safety factors in design still have to be kept down since otherwise large wind turbines would become very heavy and expensive to install and maintain.
So far wind energy has always found a way to improve. Yet long-term data, such as that collected by the University of Kassel in Germany, has shown that, on average, wind turbines are shut down twice a year after initial installation problems are eliminated.
Problems are caused by damage to the electrical and mechanical components although intervals between failure of the main components extends from two years for the electrical equipment (without generator, sensors and system control) to 22 years for the drive train (without gear).
The gearbox is often exchanged after some ten years of operation because of possible life time limitations. For this reason, some wind turbine makers are trying to avoid gearboxes completely and build so-called “gearless designs”.
These require much higher torque which is one area where HBM – with its highly accurate torque transducers and force measurement tools – can help to optimise designs.
Reducing down time
In terms of the economy of a wind farm’s operation, down time usually takes about one week per machine each year for both maintenance work and after any malfunction. There is a substantial need to improve operational reliability as well as the efficiency of energy generation.
In this rapidly growing market new trends and demands for measurements arise. Today’s wind turbines are considerably bigger and much higher than older models; especially those used offshore.
The likely demand for future wind turbines shows a greater need for measuring equipment in general and especially for offshore solutions. HBM trains its staff to cope with the very high demands of maintenance and installation in offshore wind energy tasks which makes HBM the ideal partner for the wind energy industry whether working onshore or offshore.
Scope of offer
HBM has a lot to offer to the entire product life cycle from design, R&D, through prototype development and production. Its expertise starts with structural testing, primarily on blades since these represent about 20% of the manufacturing costs and are essential for efficiency.
HBM provides sensors and strain gauges that are used as components of wind turbines, where larger towers may require continuous structural testing.
Electrical testing of power generation/transmission using the HBM Genesis High-Speed family and includes sensors used for example to improve the efficiency of dynamometer test rigs.
The measurement of forces, such as strain and torque is always important as higher nominal values are demanded while uncertainty and traceability are important topics to ensure the reliability of any measurement certification.
HBM is also the right long-term partner for the entire product life cycle of wind turbines. Working together with its sister companies from the Spectris Group (Brüel & Kjaer, B&K Vibro), HBM can provide integrated and comprehensive CMS for drive train, blades, tower foundation, especially in the offshore sector while optical solutions are being developed for the future.