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Reliability of wind turbine technology through time

: Echavarria, E.; Hahn, B.; Bussel, G.J.W. van; Tomiyama, T.


Journal of solar energy engineering 130 (2008), No.3, Art. 031005, 8 pp.
ISSN: 0199-6231
ISSN: 1528-8986
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IWES ()

This study attempts to obtain more detailed knowledge of failures of wind turbines (WTs) by using the German "250 MW Wind" test program database. Specific objectives are to show the reliability of some major components and to analyze how their design has advanced through time, what the main failures are, and which technologies have proven to work. Within the program, reports on operation and maintenance are analyzed with respect to WT type, size, and technologies used. This paper presents a comparison of component reliability through time, with respect to their technology. The results show significant differences in reliability for certain subcomponents depending on the size of the WT and especially on the type of power control. For instance, induction generators show half the annual failure rate compared to synchronous generators. The study also includes failures of other components that are affected or added due to the use of the components being analyzed. In general, the results show that failure rates of WTs decrease with time. Most of the data show a short period of "early failures" and later a long period of "random failures." However, this is not the case for the megawatt class: As technology is introduced into the market, WTs show a longer early failure behavior, which has not yet become stable. Furthermore, large turbines, included in the database analyzed, show a significantly higher annual failure rate of components, per WT. This may be due to the immature technology of the WTs included in the database.