60% of US Wind Turbines Behind on Maintenance, Not Enough Technicians to Do the Work

wind turbine parts photo

photo: conceptworker via flickr

I suppose it's an unintended consequence of the booming wind industry in the United States: a new survey by Frontier Pro Services, reported on at Renewable Energy World, says that 60% of US wind turbines may be behind on maintenance. Apparently, there simply aren’t enough qualified technicians to do the work.

According to the findings, many wind farm operations and maintenance teams are so resource constrained that they are barely able to keep up with the unscheduled maintenance repairs their wind turbines require to continue generating electricity.

Even regular, scheduled preventative-maintenance like oil changes and gearbox lubrication (services that are often still under warranty) are falling behind as manufacturers face similar resource struggles related to the shortage of qualified technicians.

Lack of Maintenance Leads to Costly Repairs
The main component causing downtown for turbines is the gearbox, which if it fails can cost 15-20% of the price of the turbine to replace. Furthermore, failure to monitor and replace oil as needed can lead to wear on bearing and gears, causing greater financial loses than simply replacing the part.

Frontier says that "when a $1,500 bearing fails unnoticed, it can lead to production loss and revenue loss including an unscheduled replacement of a $100,000 dollar gearbox and a unscheduled crane cost of up to $70,000 to access the failed components."

Wind Power Training Programs Increasing
Since the problem is lack of technicians, it’s a good thing that college training programs in renewable energy, such as the Wind Applications Center at Montana State University are increasingly popping up.

via :: Renewable Energy World
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